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RubyRosie

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    Female
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    I live by Lake Superior
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    Most things crafty, painting, yarn is my friend

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  1. Writing out these thoughts has been tough, not just because I'm finally coming to terms with a part of my childhood I forso long hoped would just disappear, but I'm having trouble putting it down in words. And I know that at some future date when I am comfortable with the idea of sharing this blog's contents with Ls and Lb, I don't want to hurt them more. Even now, all these years later, I'm trying to shield them from the pain my csa may cause them. I know I'm not responsible for it. I cannot continue to play the roll of preschooler RR, taking care of everyone else's feelings like my own don't matter. If the truth of my experience hurts the people who love me, that is not my fault, any more than any of this shit was my fault. Writing it out has helped me actually define what sexual abuse is. Some of what I now see as csa I just saw as physical abuse at the time it was happening. This seems weird, but I never realized before that an abuser might not be seeking pleasure, either for themselves or for the person they are abusing. They can unintentionally be abusing another person. Or, they can thoughtlessly do it without really considering what harm their actions are doing because they aren't thinking about the other person. Or perhaps they are just selfish. Or maybe they are sadistic and just don't care. For whatever reason, I had never considered that sexual abuse was more about the harm done to the survivor than about the motivations of the abuser. I had pictured the abuser to be seeking pleasure or power. I had assumed that absence of the pleasure seeking motive dropped this action from csa to "just" physical abuse. Even now, explaining it like that, I feel like I'm still a little in denial. Still searching for a reason that explains why she did what she did. I feel like an enabler of sorts. How do you get away with bad behavior? 1) convince people that you didn't do it, or 2) convince people that, while your actions may have been wrong, your motives weren't nefarious. I never realized how much labels effected how I thought. Once I finally saw what my mom did to me in the tub as sexual abuse I had the realization that she sexually abused me, too. I know this might sound obvious but it took me a long time to actually make that connection. I don't know why it took so long, but it did. Maybe I just didn't want to see her as a sexual abuser, too. Maybe it was just too much to handle on top of the physical and emotional trauma she doled out so regularly. Maybe I just compartmentalized it. Maybe what she did to me didn't fit the category of what an abuser does because she didn't do it in some pervy-creepy-old-dude-in-a-trench-coat-hanging-out-in-a-playground kinda way. Maybe in my head I defined what the perpetrator of csa looks like and I defined her right out of the picture because she 1) was female and 2) her motives seemed to not be for her own sexual pleasure. My own assumptions about abusers left me with a blind spot big enough for her to hide in. But it's not just the motivation of the abuser that can define something as csa, it's the combination of the action and the affect. And I CLEARLY remember absolutely dreading the end of bathtime, and knowing that she was going to hurt me down there. Feeling trapped because both of my parents touch me down there in ways I don't like and I can't make them stop. My childhood self, even my teen self and adult self, considered it about as sexual as if she'd been roughly scrubbing salt into an open wound on my arm. I saw her actions as physical abuse, and his as csa. For whatever motivated her to do it, I'm working through this idea right now. At first I thought I must be an idiot not to have realized this before. But I need to forgive my younger self for not knowing, not realizing, possibly not wanting to know. How would I have known? No one defined these things clearly for childhood me. I was young and didn't have the opportunity of hindsight or the logical reasoning skills I have as an adult. I certainly didn't have any type of support system to help me with the heavyness of this truth. I was alone and coped as best as I could. It's possible that the reason I see it for what it was now is because I'm finally at a place where I'm strong enough to handle it. I'm in a safe place where I can actually process this. That's enough for now, RR
  2. I've been writing this blog for a while now and I have a few observations. Some were expected, others surprising. Occasionally (either while I'm just thinking about what to write or, much less often, while I'm actually writing,) when something happens that reminds me of mychildhood - a smell, a sound, etc) I burst into tears, reminded of how I felt as a kid. It's been happening several times a week. This usually only lasts a few minutes. I feel profoundly sad for the young RR. It's like I'm feeling all this now because I'm allowed to feel this now. Sometimes I don't know what the mystery trigger was but often I can figure out what it was. This doesn't happen everyday, and I've talked to my T about it. I think I'm just working through some things. Lol. It seems so obvious when I type it out like that. Obviously I'm working through a bunch of things. 😁 Overall I feel a lot less anxious than I did before I started this blog. I still have anxiety, it's just been reduced quite a lot. In the beginning I was massively worried about sharing. I was worried about well-intentioned people pitying me. I didn't want to feel belittled. That seems kinda silly now, but I was worried about it a lot a month ago. This fear was based on my past experiences sharing parts of my story with people. Some people never look at you the same again when you share details of your survivor story. They said things like "that's unbelievable" and seemed like they cared but really I wondered if they weren't just thanking their lucky stars they never experienced something like that. I think that my concern on this came from not liking to feel like a little kid. I do not like feeling powerless. Others pitying me sets up an unequal power dynamic that makes my skin crawl. I do not like feeling pitiful. Here's the thing though, even if someone says something like that, I don't have to feel like that. I can choose what kind of support I listen to. I can ignore well-intentioned people who say unhelpful stupid things, even if they are not trying to harm me. Just because someone is trying to be nice doesn't mean I have to listen to them. I don't have to take it to heart. It doesn't have to trigger me. I don't have to be worried about that trigger. People will say unhelpful things. I don't have to listen. I can choose not to. That doesn't mean I'm rude. It means I can curate who gets to be on my personal support team. I have a personal cheering section just for me and I get to choose who's on it. If you are well-intentioned but obtuse...sorry, you didn't make the team. Incidentally, absolutely no one on AS has said anything like this. Everyone has been super supportive. So this was an unfounded concern I had. All of the pity reactions I've been subject to have happened in real life, face to face, situation s. Writing for me is a long process. It is kindof a jumbled mess with lots of first draft errors. Because of the aphasia, understanding written words is much harder than it was before for me. I read better and understand more when I read out loud. I also catch my own mistakes better when I read out loud. I do a bunch of writing at night, after everyone else has gone to bed. So often I find myself sitting on my bed whispering quietly to myself as I read and edit and read again, sifting through the mess to find grammar mistakes and homonyms. Freakin homonyms, man! I'm sure it looks crazy, but it works. At first I genuinely hated this. I hated everything about it. I used to be great at writing. I compared my post-TBI writing skills to my pre-TBI skills and only saw what was missing. I judged myself for the mountain of mistakes I found after the 7th, 8th, 9th reading. But then...an unexpected thing happened. In a strange way having to go over it so many times I think has been helping me face it. It's helping me validate my childhood self. Yes, this happened. Yes, it was real. Yes, it's safe to tell, safe to talk about now. Telling it over and over to myself helps me kind of slowly digest it, before I hit the button and send it out into the universe. It's odd because I rarely cry during the actual writing process. I feel vulnerable, hurt, and alone, but I don't usually cry. I think going over and over it helps me really feel the pain completely before letting it go. Before, I saw this brain injury as a massive disability, but now I'm starting to see it as a series of speed bumps. It's reminding me to slow down and helping me slowly get through all this shit. I have to repetitively go through it or it just wouldn't be readable. That leads me to the next unexpected thing - I never realized just how much shit there was. What I mean is, I had a general sense of having lived through a shitty childhood. There is far more bad and shitty memories than there are good ones. But I didn't really understand the sheer volume of crappy things I've endured. Just a mountain of it. How did I not realize there was so much pain? Possibly this is because I packed it all away in little boxes and chose not to open them all at once until now. It is seriously a lot of shit, just a fuckin lake full of it. No, not an lake, bigger than that...a childhood full of it. I need to be a less judgy friend to myself. My yoga teacher last week had us think about something untrue that we say to ourselves, and then later had us reword it. My thing was "I shouldn't feel...." I scold myself because I think that I shouldn't feel a certain way about something. However, if someone else was in the same position, I'd be gentle to them. My gentler self reworded it to "it's ok if I feel...." For instance, a few days ago I forgot to take a medication in the morning. It's one I have only been on for a few weeks, so it's just not part of my routine yet. I felt awful and just generally lousy. But by the time I realized I had forgotten my pill it was already early evening and too late to take it. Then I started with the negative self talk. I'm such a fuckin idiot... What the hell, RR?... You can't even remember one simple little pill??... The thing with negative self talk is I really shouldn't trust the source. Lol. But really, my negative talk comes from using my depressed brain. My depressed brain doesn't give me great advice. It expects me to be superhuman or something. To never make simple mistakes. And, although I am on the upswing as far as the depression goes I should really just not listen to that voice that whispers shitty untrue things inside my head. The scary thing is that sometimes I believe the things, even though I know they are not true, I fear they might be. Maybe I am a blooming idiot? Maybe I am just a jumbled mess of things I used to be able to do, but can't anymore? A collection of vacuums where there used to be skills? "I shouldn't feel so bad about my struggles." The thing is that I'm a shitty friend to myself. A good friend wouldn't talk to me this way. I need to get better at this. I need to remember to be a better friend to me. So... -It's ok if I feel sad about my TBI and how some things are harder now. That's a normal reaction to a loss. -It's ok if I missed one pill one day. That's still a greater than 95% success rate. 😁 -It's also ok to feel good about my writing. If anything, positive feedback about my writing now means so much more to me because I know the effort I had to put into it. It used to be easy. It wasn't something I had to work at. It's like getting a compliment about your eye color. Ok, it's nice I guess, but I had to put in exactly zero effort, so.....is that even a compliment? Now I actually have to put in the work. Another surprising thing that has happened is I've been remembering a few more good things that happened in my earlier years. Going on this trip down memory lane has uncovered a couple of goodmemories that I'd forgotten. I'm a very visual thinker. Here's what I envision almost every time I hit the "publish" button. Me whispering a secret into my closed fist, then holding my hand out, palm-up, in front of my mouth to blow it out into the universe. The way a little kid blows a kiss. I picture myself sending that secret away. Some of them are heavy, dusty secrets. Some are less so. But always my chest feels a little lighter for having given the secret back to the universe. It's not mine to hold anymore. It's not mine to shame myself about any more. I no longer need to keep it locked away. I can release it. I can set it free. Once I set it free it becomes a non-secret, no longer weighing heavy on my heart and shoulders. It becomes weightless. I've always had some pretty wild dreams, but lately they seem quite metaphorical. I've had this one a few times in this past month. I stand in front of my closet. I take a deep breath and open the door. I stare at the chaos inside. A tangle of clothes and hangers above a jumbled mess of old clothes. Boxes bulging with forgotten memories precariously stacked on the shelf above. Slowly I start to clean out all the old shit that doesn't fit any more. Sorting through boxes and piles of too big or too little stuff, and using some of it to make something useful to me now. Like a denim rag rug made from the memories my body still remembers but my mind had almost forgotten. Now they are flooding back as I dig through the pile. These clear memories of the sights and sounds and emotionsof my childhood. And maybe I will make something useful out of them. Something useful to me, or helpful to someone else. I'm trying to make a quilt out of my old clothes. Maybe it will keep someone else warm? I am trying to use sunlight to turn my pain into beauty. I've got part 2 coming, just don't know how to word it just yet. I'll let it sit at that for now. RR
  3. RubyRosie

    13 - mom letter

    @Enigma87 thank you for reading it. RR
  4. @Enigma87 TW - I use direct language when talking about this assault. - specifically r**e First, thank you for sharing this awful painful memory. I know how hard sharing is, and how scary it is, especially since you are afraid of being judged. I am proud of you for sharing this secret. Secondly, although he was considerably younger than you, AND that fact alone was enough to trigger you with echoes of past abuse you've endured, his age has absolutely nothing to do with it. To show you what I mean, please just bear with me for a moment. An age gap alone isn't enough for sexual contact to be inappropriate and predatory on the part of the older person. A teenager can assault a person of any age, older or younger than them. Even if the younger person was under eighteen, say sixteen for example, it is still possible for them to SA a person much older. Unfortunately, this is not unheard of. Just because the person being assaulted is older than the person doing the assaulting does not give that person some sort of loophole where the assault isn't "really" an assault. The fact is that you made it clear that you did not consent. This was rape. I'm sorry this happened to you. This wasn't your fault. You froze. That was your body's reaction. That was not your fault. That was your response, your body's way of trying to protect you. To help you survive. And the shame you have wrapped around the fact that your body reacted to physical stimulation by having an o**m, that is not your shame to bare. It was not your fault. It does not mean that you wanted this. It means your body acted naturally. It responded to that. It does not mean that you consented. I understand the conflict that you feel about that. The guilt you feel. But that is your mind trying to make sense of a senseless thing. This was not your fault. That is not your guilt to hold. That was his fault. Same with the guilt you feel about drinking. You drinking does not give anyone else a green light to do whatever they want to you. I know that there is guilt around breaking your sobriety. I get that. It was an accomplishment to be proud of. As far as that guilt goes, this rape was not a punishment for your drinking. It was not. This rape happened because he did it to you. Your sobriety is separate from that. It is something to work towards and certainly be proud of, but don't beat yourself up if you stumble once in a while. We all make mistakes. Today is a new day. Every day you can make the choice to be sober. Every day you can start new. I'm sorry this happened to you. I believe you. My heart is hurting for you right now. This sucks. I'm sitting with you if that's ok. I'm so proud of you for telling. RR
  5. RubyRosie

    13 - mom letter

    -Dear- mom, You marinated me in your bitterness and hatred for 18 years but I was strong enough I managed to hold onto my capacity for love. You tried your damnedest to kill my spirit but I survived. I may have scars but in the end I won. Because love wins. I have no use for you anymore. You did not and do not have the capacity to give me what I needed from you, so I found it elsewhere. You are dismissed. RR
  6. @AlexAlex thank you for sharing these very difficult feelings. I know that this is hard. It's hard to say it out loud or write it down because, at least for me anyway, it kindof makes it more real. Please know that you are not alone with these struggles. I don't have any answers, but I do care about your pain. Sitting nearby sending healing thoughts, if that's ok. RR
  7. I'm eighteen. I've already moved out. At this point I'm living in my bf's grandma's house. I come to visit my mom because she says she has something important to tell me. So I drive a half hour over to the house and we talk. She's nervous. We walk casually out to the garden. It's only a few yards from her horse's fenced in pasture. Crescent comes over near the fence to say hi. It's been a few months and I've missed him. His chores used to be my responsibility. I'd bring him home my apple cores or banana peels from lunch at school. My mom stops the small talk and abruptly I understand why she is so nervous. The news she has is probably the most shaken I've ever been, up to that point. Your dad is not your real dad. What!!? I'm waiting by the locker room across the hall from the gym in my elementary school. The school building is shaped like a big letter L. The kitchen is on the end of the short hall, next is the gym. At the end of the hall is the set big doors that lead out to the playground. We're waiting in line to go out for recess. While I wait I'm working on a math problem in my head. I keep rolling it around. I must be doing something wrong. This isn't adding up. Literally. But maybe I'm just doing the math wrong. I'm seven. I know that, even though we don't celebrate birthdays. I know that for sure. But...my parents anniversary is at the end of summer, and I thought mom said it was their 5th anniversary. They had me before they got married. This literally just doesn't add up. I might be making a math mistake? I ask her about it later at home, and her face turns pink. She sheepishly admits that I was born before they got married. I remember being shocked. That was a sin. Jehovah doesn't like that. So I'm standing in her garden, remembering that lie years later after she confesses that he is not my biological father. I mean, it was a lie that she let me assume I was his. Standing in her garden surrounded by rows and rows of veggies and weeds. Crescent was standing grazing in the edge of his field. He is getting anxious, tossing his head around and making nervous horse noises as I grew more upset. I'm pacing now. Looking down at the rows of plants. Being careful of where I stepped. Wanting to smash her stupid lying face in. Asking, trying to understand, the lies - hundreds of them buzzing in my ears. She says that the reason she's tellingme this now is because we had each had a close call health-wise recently. I was bitten by a brown recluse spider, and she had a severe allergic reaction to a medication when she was out of state for a religious convention. She said she thought she might die in that hotel room. She says that she wanted to tell me, but didn't know how and now she's scared and feels guilty. What if one of us had died? I say she lied to me so many times. She denies the lies. I tell her that it's a lie of omission, she says that's not a lie. I ask how many thousands of times she referred to him as "your dad". That's thousands of lies! Thousands! So...who's my real dad? She tries to say he is real, he raised me. I scream at her. She says that she doesn't know. She starts that fake crying thing. Might be two different people. I might've been either two weeks premie or two weeks overdo. I know I was a big baby. She told me that before. I call her a w**re! Scream it. I am livid. I feel so dismissed. I wasn't even important enough for her to tell me my own truth! I feel like she is lying to me about this too but my whole world has just been upended. I feel so betrayed. So abused. So used. She didn't even respect me enough to tell me the truth. What a lying fucking w**re! She knows but won't admit it. She wants to make it half-right, but won't tell me the whole truth. There's something else here...I know it. I can feel it. I storm off angrily towards the fence, careful not to crush the rows of plants. I give Crescent a big handful of clover and a little scratch on his forehead goodbye and I then I get in my car and drive away. Her "guilt" about not telling was so self-serving. And, as it turned out, that was a fucking lie, too. My spider bite and her allergic reaction. Her fear of one of us dying while she still held this secret. It was pure bullshit. Years later I learned that my sister was the one who prompted my mom to finally tell me. Blackmailed her, really. Threatened to tell me herself if mom didn't. She'd added the pieces up. Ls and Lb look like twins. Very similar bone structure. Similar blonde hair and blue eyes. Skin that turns a light shade of caramel in the summer. Nothing like me. I look like my mom, not him. Red hair and dark brown eyes. I was not a sun lover. My freckles get darker in summer but my skin would burn red as a tomato, blister, peel twice and still be as white as my siblings hair underneath. Somehow Ls added this up on her own. Not surprising though, she always was better at math than me. When I was born I had my mom's maiden name. My birth certificate listed only one parent. Later I got my s-dad's last name but I wasn't adopted. My birth certificate got changed/edited to add the missing name of the father. This was not legal. But back then you didn't have to prove paternity to change a birth certificate. My mom stole me from my real dad. Snatched me and he didn't even know he was robbed. He didn't know I existed. I wonder how she saw it. I wonder if she actually thought about using my innocence to pay for her "happy marriage." Did she think about it like that? As a quid pro quo? Sacrificing my innocence in exchange for a ring on her finger. It's hard now, with the benefit of hindsight, not to see it as a swap. I don't know when, exactly, but somewhere along the timeline she traded my pain for her relationship. I wonder what the clerk at the public records office thought. Did they realize that they were assisting in a kidnapping-by-forgery? Probably not. Probably whoever they were they just thought "well that's sweet, a family reunited." My mom probably did that fake crying thing that she does to tell the sob story of how at the time of my birth they were separated and now they are back together and newlyweds and they just want to make this right. Aaahh, what a happy ending. I'm wondering about what the train of thought was behind that for both my mom and for him. He always knew I wasn't really his. I was born before she met him. So is that why he saw me as expendable? As disposable? Was marrying my mom a package deal? Was there abuse before they got married? If there was, did my mom know about the abuse before they got married? Did she really think that he was her best option? That a single mom with a bastard mini-me in tow was such a horrible position to be in that he was her best option? My own oldest turned 21 recently. It's strange to ponder. He is the age I was when I had him. I remember the surge of Mama Bear hormones that flooded through me just looking at him. Knowing I would do anything in my power to protect him. Anything. His cries were a secret code that unlocked my previously hidden ability to feed him. His presence upgraded my body's creation ability. Not only did my body create a person. A whole. magical. living. person, but the mere thought of him gave my body the enhanced ability to turn water and sandwiches and pizza and hotdish into baby fuel. He needed me in a way that no one ever has. I learned his language so I could understand him. His asking for love, for food. When he told me he was hungry, I fed him. When he just wanted love, I gave it to him. I was thinking alot about how my caring for everyone else shaped my personality. Does the abuse define me? Does my reaction to it? How did I manage to care for Ls and Lb with no real example to follow? Underneath all the neglect am I just a reaction to my situation? Am I a reaction to a toxic environment? Am I the way I am because of having to take on the roll of caregiver so very young? What is my real personality? More urgently, in my thoughts anyways, is this question - Why have I managed to survive my life so remarkably intact? Why has it taken me this long to have a breakdown? Why now? How did I survive? I've been thinking about this a lot, so I talk to my T about it. Where did I spend my first two years? With people who loved and doted on me. Who showered me with love. Who nurtured my personality. Those first two years were critical to shaping my ability to form connections. To be bonded. To have commitments. To know what love was. So in an odd way, even though I have no actual memories of him, at a very basic level the person who had the most influence on me might've been my grandpa. And instead of just relying on nature, I was given nurture too, if only for a very short time. The faint smell of pipe tobacco is a happy memory for me. My mom told me many times I was allergic to cigarette smoke as a baby. Grandpa smoked a pipe, or cigars (I can't remember which). After I was born he'd smoke outside. I think the reason I have a warm fuzzy happy feeling about the faint smell of burning pipe tobacco is because it is one of the first smells of love I ever knew. I was 2 when my mom's dad died. I think I remember his funeral. Not a body or a casket, but a foggy faint memory full of shadows, of us walking up big hard (not wood) white steps, people in dark clothes crying, there was a big table and a line, we were waiting for something, waiting in a line to see a table. Pots or vases of flowers. Lots of flowers, and a red and white striped tablecloth. *************** My 6yr old son and I are volunteering in my daughter's Headstart room. He is across the room reading to a small group of preschoolers. He is reading the book upside down like he does at home with his sister. The headstart teachers are amazed. He's only 6 but already a good reader. My daughter is sitting in my lap while I read the book "Each Peach Pear Plum" to another group of her classmates. I'm sitting crisscross applesauce on the circle rug with my legs folded. A little blonde boy stands up and darts towards me. He grabs the book to see the picture and for a few moments it's not me reading to my daughter, the rambunctious boy, and their classmates. It's me and Ls and Lb. I was big enough to lift Lb onto our floral couch by now. I climb up and sit between them and we explore the story. "Where's the tree?" They point. I flip the page. "And the baby bear?" They point again. "How many bears?" I ask. "Let's count, 1, 2, 3!" They smile. They are happy. We find all the little hidden pictures. The fishing poles, the pie, the empty cupboard. The hats and birds. Clouds in the sky, the water, it's a river... I am lost for a while in this sweet memory, until my daughter, still sitting on my lap, shakes my arm and brings me back to her. ************ My mom was just a bit younger than my son is now when she had me. She moved home. She transferred to a closer college and continued going to school, though eventually she'd end up not finishing. She had a 60 mile drive to school. I'm not sure if she lived in the dorms and came home on weekends or if she drove every day. Either way, my Gram worked as an elementary school cook so it was my grandpa who watched me during the day. I wonder where my mom's Mother Bear instinct was when I was that little. Did she ever have one? Did she hate me yet then? My cute little round face and head full of curls. Was she born with a stone in her chest or did her heart just gradually fossilize to me? Did she see me as something to barter with from the beginning? Was I a hurdle to overcome? Bait for a prospective romantic partner? Or was that just later that she sacrificed her bastard firstborn? Did she know my language? Did she care when I was hungry or just want to shut me up? Did she know when I just wanted to talk? Or play? Did she know when I just wanted love? RR
  8. @behindthesehazeleyes thank you so much for reading it and for your kind offer. Yes, please pm me if you want. It's good not to feel alone. I'm sorry you're going through this right now. RR
  9. I had never experienced a complete lack of appetite like this before. At first my stomach burned, but after a week the sharp empty pain in my belly let up. I knew I needed to eat, I wasn't trying to die, but I didn't feel hungry for anything. I forced myself to eat once a day. No biggie, I thought to myself. It's not like I don't have belly jiggle to lose. Who cares if I lose a little bodyfat? That's not what happened though. The ache in my belly was replaced by a burning in my legs. My thigh muscles felt like they were on fire. My calf muscles have shrunk. A pair of thick knee-high grey and red wool socks that used to fit snug around my calves now sags down around my ankles. I've lost a major amount of muscle. Glutes, thighs, calves. My legs have gone missing. I didn't care enough about myself to care that I was hungry or uncomfortable. It was more like, up 'til now I took care of myself as an afterthought or while I was in the process of caring for others. I'd stopped cooking. I was so chronically exhausted that I just ate canned food. Most of the time I didn't even bother to heat it up. Cooking had been an act of love. A way to show the people around you that you care. Feeding others was one of my go to ways to show love. The realization that I never really learned how to value myself. I never learned how to love myself enough to care that I was wasting away. I didn't love myself enough to care that I was so deeply uncomfortable. To care that the muscles in my lower body were shriveling up and dissolving away. My once strong legs were now shakey when I did get out of bed. Walking to the bathroom felt like running a marathon. I felt unsteady and fragile physically and mentally. The shame of not knowing how to love me. Of never having learned how to love myself. I was a fraud. Thinking with a depressed brain made this feel worse. It magnified the shame. I was a fraud and I am a fraud. I have cared for babies and kids, old ladies and teenagers, but I don't know how to care for me? Well, just look at me. I'm a trainwreck. I wouldn't trust me to plantsit right now. I'm too deep in the muck. "You can't love anyone else until you learn to love yourself." Yea, that saying is BS. You can't take care of others unless you take care of yourself first, sure...ok...I'll buy that line. But love, no. It's totally possibly to love someone and not really care that much about yourself at all. To not have ever learned to love yourself. I call bullshit on that saying. I hated goals, they seemed so pointless. Why have a goal if it seemed like whenever you really wanted something, had your heart set on it, it was the job of every adult to put up hurdle after hurdle? Don't get me wrong, I still accomplished things, I just thought capital G Goals were for someone else. They were for little girls who had moms who dressed them carefully and did their ponytails before sending them off to girl scout meetings. I thought of myself as endlessly more flexible than that. My own superpower was that I adapted to anything. I rolled with the punches. I changed plans suddenly when I was unexpectedly left in charge of Lb and Ls and about a hundred cousins. "Don't worry, RR can handle it." My mother's voice rang in my head. And you know what? I did handle it. Because I had to. Because who else was going to do it? Goals were stupid. My goal that I wanted to be comfortable was stupid. When the fuck was that ever going to happen? Why did I even think it was possible in the first place? For a long time now I've considered myself a cautious optimist, my glass is two thirds full to allow for expansion due to freezing. Lol. Ok, it's a Minnesota joke. But it's also a joke about my only slightly positive self protective outlook. Protective because I expect people to let me down. I have to be the stable one for me and for the little kids. They needed me. I had to be strong. I trust very few people. My lack of trust is my protection against abuse and disappointment. It protected me from the million broken promises adults made to me when I was younger. It protects me from men who break their "rock solid" commitments. It protected me from a string of fake friends who were there for the sunny days and nowhere to be found when the downpour started. It helped me to protect Ls and Lb from my parents repeated broken promises. I knew they would probably fail us. I expected them to fail us. And they did, spectacularly. I was disconnected from my own body. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to blink and vanish from existence. I didn't want to die. Really, I didn't. I just wanted to never have existed in the first place. But I can't do that. I don't have the power to blink myself out of existence. Slowly I realize that obviously I need something to take care of, because I am not enough. Look at my chain of jobs I've had since as far back as I can remember. Taking care of Ls and Lb, my cousins, kids I babysat, clients at the nursing home, daycare kids, my own kids, kids at the school when I was a para, the tenth graders I tutored, hospice patients, the foster care kids I worked with, Alzheimer's patients, developmentally disabled clients at the group home, the kids on the school bus, my nieces and nephews... I literally have taken care of people from birth to death. And, somehow, I don't know how to take care of me? I don't know how to love me enough to care that I'm not taking care of myself. I am on the phone with the crisis line, the lady on the other end is talking me through the panic attack this realization triggered. I feel deeply deeply like a fraud. How the fuck can I not know this. It's basic shit, but I don't know how to love me. "Give me a puppy, a house plant, ANYTHING, and I take care of my basic needs as a necessary step to taking care of the other thing." I say. She says that she thinks I'm being too hard on myself. She is probably right. I say I hate goals but this is my short term goal, this is what I will do for me - when I am hungry, eat. I will do this for four days. That's all I feel like I can commit to. Four days of paying attention to if I'm hungry, and feeding myself. Four days of paying attention to my most primitive feelings and taking care of me. I say it's stupid. She says no, it is not. This is a perfectly attainable goal. It's good. Four days isn't too long. It's achievable. I say it's stupid and I'm stupid for having to even have this as a goal. "No, it is not. It is important." She has me repeat my goal and then use positive words to lock it in my brain in a positive mindset. "My goal is easy and attainable. My goal is easy and attainable. My goal is easy and attainable." If you'd asked me about basic hygiene being an act of love, I'd've said no, it is not. I have given baths/showers to maybe a hundred different people. Maybe more. As part of my job. But, if you really look at it when I first started helping Ls & Lb it was out of my love for them. My want to take care of them. To protect them. At the same time, my own self cares were so I didn't get smacked, or called stinky. So I wasn't physically or emotionally abused more. And mom was teaching me how (not) to love myself. How to (not) value myself. And S-dad was teaching me that I was not in control of my own body. I didn't get to use my voice to change things and make them better for me. But I did get to take care of Ls & Lb. I had a choice - lay there and listen to what the programming and the depression playing in my head said, or... don't. Or, instead, get up and do something for me. Brush my teeth, my hair, take care of this body that had for so long taken care of me, but I'd neglected for the past three months. Taking care of myself became a radical act of self love. It went against all the abuse. All my earliest programming that taught me how to think about me. All the teaching me that I wasn't worth it. So, slowly, I crawled out of the black hole I was sunk in. It's been a year and a half, and I'm still working on it. I told my siblings how bad it had gotten. I asked for help. I did physical therapy and saw my doctors. I did counseling. I feel like I'm not really quite "there" yet, but I'm working on it. Things are slowly getting better. A radical act of self love indeed. 💗 RR
  10. @Enigma87 Thank you for sharing this hurt with us. I know everything about this is hard. You said- But why do I have to feel like a bad person, because I had a mental breakdown and am having trouble coming out of it? Can't they see the years of hurt and pain and secrets that made me this way? The people that hurt me, and haven't had to work on themselves, but I do? They have carried right on with their own lives. But then again, maybe it is my fault because I was too scared to tell or report anyone. I still am. It doesn't even matter anymore. The answer is that no, they either cannot or will not let themselves see the hurt and pain and secrets that have effected you. That's hard but dealing with people who are in denial is awful. They choose to see everything from just their point of view. No it is not your fault. You were scared to tell. Fear of a dominant abusive force is natural. Your fear was your way of coping. "It doesn't even matter anymore." I assure you friend, it does matter. Your life matters. Your pain matters. The way those abusers twisted the truth to keep you silent matters. It matters. You matter. Please, if you are comfortable and feel safe doing so, say this to yourself. Repeat it a few times. I matter I matter I matter Sitting with you if you like, sending good thoughts your way. My heart aches for your pain. 💞 RR
  11. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately and have come to the conclusion that my mother wasn't just merely neglectful, did not just simply "fail to protect me." She actively sexually abused me. I have a knot in my stomach as I write this. Today was the first time I've ever said that out loud. I said it to my T. I've always thought about it in terms of her being mean and rough and slapping me around. For some reason I've never seen it like that before. I've been thinking and thinking about it and can't really call it anything else. There's a word for it. A heavy two word term. I've never classified her aggressive bathtime scrubbing as sexual abuse before, but it was. Here's my litmus test- If I saw her doing that to another child, damn straight I'd call that sexual abuse! Prior to the last few days, I always thought of it like this - He was a predator. He actively molested me. My mom was neglectful. She knew what was happening but failed to act to protect me. She was the one who was physically violent a lot. I've been backhanded off a chair too many times to count. She was emotionally manipulative. She'd fucking fake cry at the drop of a hat. But if anyone would have asked me 5 years ago if what she did to me as a little kid fell into the category of sexual assault, I'd've said no. Hell, if you asked me that three weeks ago, I'd've said no. Physical abuse, definitely. Sexual abuse...uuuuhhh no. Maybe that's cuz I believed the whole stereotypical "csa looks like this" propaganda I've been programmed to believe. I believed that the perpetrator of csa had to be enjoying it. I feel like mentally I didn't want to believe it about her. For some reason I've always blamed hermore for the abuse because as my mom wasn't her duty to protect me? I made excuses like "she saw me as a dirty thing and this was her mental instability hurting me trying to literally scrub the abuse out of me with a hard bar of soap wrapped in a washcloth". What she did to me down there wasn't like applying diaper rash cream to a child with a rash. This wasn't necessary hygienic touch. I would have no problems classifying it as abuse if I walked in on her doing that to my child, to a nursing home client, to any vulnerable person. Why could I not see this before? Does it go back to that she was doing it out of disgust, and he seemed to enjoy it? i guess in the end it really doesn't matter WHY she did it. It happened. It doesn't matter if she thought she had a valid reason to do it, or not. It doesn't matter if she was just jealous of me, or mad, or in some symptom of mental illness was trying to clean me. There was no valid reason. There is no excuse that will cover this. Maybe she was born with a rock in her chest? I feel betrayed and confused. It's weird how giving something a label helps you more accurately think about it. That's all I've got for now. RR
  12. @girlsnz I am so proud of you. Asking for help when you need it is a hard thing to do. I'm glad she was able to support you. I have been having more flashbacks lately. It's hard because I feel like I should have processed this stuff by now. But that's just me judging where I should be on my healing by now. Please be gentle with yourself. Your feelings are valid, no matter how unpleasant they are. Processing this junk takes time. It's not fair to judge your progress when you are doing your best to heal. Sitting with you, if you like. And again, so proud that you are here. Your needs matter. Your pain matters. RR
  13. @HopelesslyHopeful thank you for reading it and for your kind words. I appreciate the support. You're welcome to just sit with me if you like. I have a big umbrella and sometimes it helps just to know someone else, to feel not so alone. RR
  14. It is a good day. My husb and I are in town at Walmart shopping. I remember we were in a good mood, flirting with each other. Unsuspecting, we casually walk down the deodorant aisle. Like bees we sample some of the offerings, slightly opening the lids just a crack, enough to smell the contents, sharing the ones we liked, then jamming the sticks back in those springloaded deodorant holder thingys. "Do I want to smell like this?" "How about this one?" "Do you want me to smell like this or this? Which one is better?" "I don't know...which do you like better?" I like his smile. We live in the woods at his parents house about a half an hour from town with my FIL and MIL and his sister (SIL). We've been working hard to put a garden in. Squash and tomatoes are flowering and I'm excited about all the life in the garden. It reminds me of my Gram's garden when I was little. Rows and rows of peas and carrots and mounds of cucumbers. We buzz on to the soap section. The sense of smell and memory is like a time machine. Catches me offguard. Suddenly I'm tumbling backwards, transported back three decades to my Gram's kitchen. I was a tall kid with long muscular legs. When I was three I was often mistaken for a five or six yr old. I must have been quite young here. My Gram is holding me. If I was older I would've been too heavy to carry like this. My face is nuzzled into her neck. This is burned into my brain - the smell of irish spring soap, scope mouthwash, and aquanet hairspray. She is cuddling me, holding me on her hip, swaying gently back and forth while she stirs the contents of a pot on the stove. She is standing at an angle, holding me against her with her right arm, cooking with her left. Her body between me and the boiling pot so I won't be splattered. My arms are around her, clasped together by her neck, hanging on like a little monkey. This is a position I will often mimic later with my own children. "You ok?" he asks. It's my husb. He looks worried, like he's concerned about me. "Yup, I like that one. It smells like my Gram." "You wanna get it?" He gestures towards the cart with the box. "Nah, I don't want to smell like that, I would forget what she smelled like." It wouldn't remind me of her if I used it all the time. "I don't want it to lose it's power." He smiles. "Well, how about this one?" I turn towards him and I'm suddenly sucker-punched out of nowhere. I'm standing in several inches of lukewarm water. I am naked and shivering. My mom is kneeling on a woven rag rug on the linoleum floor of my Gram's bathroom. She's just finished washing Lb and Ls. She carefully wraps Ls in a towel, pats her on the tush and sends her out of the bathroom to go get dressed in jammies. Now is the worst part of bathtime for 5yr old me. I have a knot in my stomach. I hate how rough she is with me. Jerking my head around. Calling my hair a ratsnest. Pouring water over my face. Shampoo water goes in my eyes and it burns. I try to hold my breath but soapwater always goes up my nose. I hate how it feels down there when she scrubs me so hard. I wimper and protest but I don't want to be smacked. I try to just hold still. I don't want to slip. The soap stings like hell, but I also don't want to piss her off more. She hated giving us a bath and uses up all her gentleness and niceness on Lb and Ls. By the time it's my turn she has no patience left. She roughly scrubs my "business" with a bar of safeguard soap wrapped in a washcloth. It's hard and it hurts. I must be dirtier than all the other kids put together. I must be the dirtiest kid ever. She clenches her jaw and scrubs and scrubs. Safeguard soap. It is the smell of his skin at night, me laying next to him. The smell of his tattooed chest. Safeguard soap and old spice aftershave. "You ok, RR?" Someone is talking to me. I look up. I must have dropped to my knees because I'm kneeling now. I see my husb. standing next to me. He looks very worried. I realize my face is wet. I feel my mouth and my cheek with my hand and hold it out to see if I'm bleeding. It is wet with my tears and spit. I feel like I can't breathe. I am gasping for air. "It's ok, alright. It's ok." He crouches down and hugs me and I squirm away from him. He's still holding the box of soap that unlocked this horrible flashback. "No!" I yell louder than I mean to. He sees what I mean and quickly sets the box down on a shelf. He's bewildered, but trying to be supportive. I remember we left the cart there and walked back out to my truck. He asked if I was ok there. He made sure I was safe, and went back inside and went through the checkout. By the time he got back with the cartfull of groceries I was feeling much better. "So, you wanna talk about it?" "Not now, later." "Ok" he squeezed my hand supportively. ********************** My mom's shitshow of a job parenting me was probably the biggest influence on my own parenting style. Like an afterschool special narrator saying "Ok kids, here's what not to do." For one thing, I didn't teach my kids to use cutsie little babynames for their private parts. My son knew what a penis was. My daughter knew what a vagina was. They learned the name when we were going over all the body parts. I named it like any other body part. No special significance, except that your butt and your penis or vagina were collectively known as private parts. Those are parts you keep to yourself. It wasn't until I was maybe ten years old that I realized that "business" was not the name of my private part. This was utterly embarrassing. I was a little bit younger when I learned that "winky" wasn't the name for the boy part. That was a babyname. I was not going to have my kids using cutsie little family nicknames for their bodies. Nope. Also, my kids were fairly young when I taught them to wash themselves. I taught my daughter to wash her vagina with just water. And use a washcloth. And do it herself. I would help if they needed it, but by the time they were 3 they were both getting everything clean but their backs. "Your body is yours. All of it. From your head all the way down to your toes. That means you can take care of it. You are responsible for keeping your whole body clean. Not always clean, but regularly cleaned. That means your armpits, behind your ears, in your belly button, between your toes, that crease where your leg connects to your body, your penis/vagina (depending on which kid) and your butt crack too. Don't forget to rinse all the soap off. You don't want to get a rash. If you need help with your hair I'll help you with that. Dry yourself off good. Don't forget all the creases. You don't want to get a rash." You don't want to get a rash. Not once did my mother ever say those words to me. For fucks sake I was maybe ten when I read in a book about babysitting that you are always supposed to wipe a baby from front to back when changing a diaper! Ten! Ten years old and no one had taught me how to wipe. No one had cared enough to teach me not to use soap down there. No wonder I was always itchy. No wonder my underwear always had whitish discharge built up in it. My mom never made me change my undies regularly either, so often that discharge would be there for a few days until it got all cracked like a dried up mud puddle in the sun. I'd be sitting on the toilet peeling it off of my undies dropping it into the water. This was my normal. When I started working as a direct care assistant with foster care kids, I changed up my "your body is yours" lecture. I dropped the words penis and vagina entirely, swapped out for the generic term "private parts." This was the preferred terminology that their caseworkers used and made it easier to cater the lesson to everybody. I also had to teach some older kids how to bathe themselves. I'd stand, fully clothed (obviously), in the bathroom with a doll and a dry washcloth demonstrating proper technique. I remember one little girl would laugh and laugh when I used the term "all the little nooks and crannies" when referring to folds and belly rolls. I had to explain that body odor was a thing. That you wipe front to back so poop germs don't get in your front private part. That sweat builds up in skin folds. That everybody has to take baths. That no, they were not the "dirty kid." That everyone gets sweaty and stinky but everyone gets to take a bath or shower and feel fresh and new again. That you want to dry yourself thoroughly. That you don't want to get a rash. That toothpaste was like soap for your teeth. That using lotion is one way to take care of your skin after you have a bath. That nobody was allowed to touch them. Nobody but themselves. I told them the things that I needed to hear when I was that age.
  15. @Romani Thankyou for reading this and for your support. You're so right about how I get to choose my family now. It's good to have more control over who's in and who's not in.
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