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Found 24 results

  1. This is also posted in Share Your Story. The three installments are now posted in order there, and the board is now open to responses, but you may respond either here, or there, if you wish! As always, please heed the trigger warnings above - and thank you in advance for reading! Normal blogs will resume very soon, as my OCD self wanted these installments to be in order, without 'interruptions.' And so, without further ado: Installment Three: After It might make the most sense to say that this third installment began when I opened my eyes on the morning of October 5th in 1996. I’d gone to bed only hours earlier, but still hadn’t slept long. I still felt sore, my head still ached, and my eyes burned whenever I blinked. I needed the bathroom again but remember not wanting to get out of bed just yet. I was in my room, but scanning through all of my familiar surroundings and belongings only made me uneasy and made everything seem ominous. I didn’t know who I was, anymore. Everything that I knew – wasn’t the same. That realization sat with me all through the rest of the weekend, the rest of the month, the rest of the year of 1996. After the week of school that the ‘stomach bug’ caused me to miss, I’d gone back and auto-piloted my way through the rest of the semester. I went to class, sat quietly through lectures. If there was a break in between classes, I would get a meal at the cafeteria and find a quiet place to sit. That was a challenge, but I’d managed. Then, when it was time to go home, I went home and usually retreated into my room, only coming out to eat, drink or to use the shower or bathroom. My father, not a very emotionally present man, didn’t question anything, which I was glad for. My mother was a little more involved, but I’d managed to pull the wool over her eyes, too – something MUCH easier to do when there is minimal contact. I made my best (also minimal) efforts to stay afloat, and by the time 1997 had rolled around, I’d managed to finish my first semester of school with a solid 2.7 GPA. I don’t know if there was pity on the professor’s end, but I probably deserved to flunk at least half of my classes. Everything was half-assed. I did not participate in the in-class discussion, I really couldn’t focus too much on any of the reading without glazing over and eventually throwing the book aside. My papers were shorter than they should have been. Yet, I’m grateful for the C’s and D’s – they simply meant to me that I wouldn’t have to sit through these classes AGAIN! That was just one of many lucky breaks, though. I’d known that moving into my Dad’s house for college would make it very difficult to maintain my now long-distance relationship, but now, there was even more reason to avoid seeing Matt. The shame was too great; I couldn’t help but think of my ‘non-virginity’ whenever I’d see a photo of Matt and I together. His words would repeat in my mind, “we’ll do it on our wedding night, it will be SO special!” First, I wondered if I could hide it, could I just pretend that I still was a virgin? How even would Matt be able to tell? It wasn’t something that would come out in flashing lights…as soon as we’d done it. Everything in my brain, though, told me he would know, and images of him looking at me with disgust – took over. So, my responses to Matt’s emails (daily!) began to falter and shorten. Eventually, he began to ask when he could come see me, and my excuses that I was busy with classes only worked for a little while. He missed me, he said, and wanted to see me. He’d seen me for Christmas the month before, when I’d gone back to Mom’s for the holiday break – there were a couple of brief visits with Matt during my trips home, but I’d definitely been distant, and to avoid kissing him, I’d told him I was either sick, or I’d make sure we were only around a bunch of other people (his family, my family) so that there was NO opportunity for ‘alone time.’ I am sure Matt wondered what the reason was for my being distant, but he’d never pushed, either. In hindsight, I’m not even sure I would have wanted him to. There was some hand-holding, though, which was probably nice for him but uncomfortable for me, especially because of all the remaining guilt I was feeling. I felt unworthy of Matt’s love and affection – holding this HUGE secret. I knew that I needed to break up with him, and just didn’t have the heart to do it. I think, though, it was my hope that HE would be the one to walk away from me. He wasn’t budging, though. Despite my telling Matt not to make the 2.5-hour drive to my father’s house, he still decided to surprise me with a visit. My Dad was out when he showed up, holding flowers. When I’d gotten through with yelling at him for not telling me he was coming, I agreed to go for a drive with him. THAT’s when he pushed. We were eventually parked outside a restaurant and he’d been telling me about his own classes, his friends, his band that they were trying to form. I’d listened, done a lot of nodding, ‘hmm-hmm’s’ and had thrown in a few automated responses of ‘that’s nice.’ “Okay…what’s wrong?” He finally said. I PROBABLY could have broken down and told my boyfriend what had happened just a few short months earlier, but at that very moment, I literally SAW the walls rise up. It wasn’t safe. It was dangerous. Matt, who had NEVER raised his voice to me, NEVER touched me in any way that was not gentle, NEVER had gotten angry with me – Matt, the saint – now scared the hell out of me. It made NO sense, whatsoever, to want to run away from him, but I did. I think I remember vaguely, my hand clasping the car door handle when he began to say he’d noticed a change in me. I don’t even remember the half of it, even though the words and memories swirled…. I was caught completely off guard when Matt’s lips covered mine – it was one of those unexpected last-ditch effort at romance, I think – kinda like in one of those old films when the man grabs the woman and plants one on her in the heat of the moment. While I might have appreciated the sneak-attack kiss months earlier when Matt was the one who was keeping a distance, it didn’t sit well with me at the moment, and I shoved him away almost as quickly as the kiss had come on. He backed off, stunned, and just stared at me. And that’s when I told an incredulous Matt, without making eye contact, that I just didn’t love him anymore and that we needed to break up. Through the corner of my eye, though, I could see his heart break into a million pieces. He stared at me for at least a minute, which seemed more like several, before he began to plead. He asked me to look at him, which I couldn’t. He asked what he’d done – I couldn’t think of a single thing that he’d done wrong, but at the same time, I couldn’t explain that this wasn’t about him at all. I provided one-word answers, mostly, and let him bawl, I let him take my hand, thinking momentarily that maybe, just maybe, this could be fixed? Maybe the truth wouldn’t be as bad as I thought it would be – but still couldn’t get past the notion that it STILL might be seen as a betrayal. I’d already said what was hard enough to build up to saying, and there was no turning back, now. I finally asked him to take me back to my Dad’s house, and he put the car in gear and drove. He declined to come in when we got back to the house, and instead sped off – likely heading back home. I went inside, sat down, and cried, tears of relief, tears of shame, tears of self-hatred for having done what I’d done. Matt hadn’t deserved any of that. And here, I’d done a horrible thing and had sent him home upset – I HAD told him to let me know when he got home but was sure he’d be too angry to. I understood that, too, and was surprised to actually receive an email later on that evening – an email that I left unanswered because there had been more pleading, more ‘talk to me’s’ and more questions I couldn’t answer truthfully. I responded a few days later, with ‘glad you made it home safely, will talk to you soon.’ I gave him no hopes of us reconciling. Matt was too good for me, he deserved so much better than me. Eventually, he stopped emailing, and our breakup sank in – and the next time I’d see Matt was by running into him at Party City years later, where he and his fiancée were picking up their wedding invitations. I had my son in tow as I walked in, needing to buy paper products for a party his pre-kindergarten class was having. We’d locked eyes after not seeing each other for nearly a decade, and we’d exchanged a very, VERY awkward ‘oh, hi!’ before walking away from each other. No conversation. Perhaps it would have been different if we were both alone. There was a sigh of relief, I must say, for it was nice to see that Matt had found love again. At this point, I was married too, but my original plan (as well as Matt’s, as we were supposed to have married each other!) had been unfairly foiled. I still resented myself for not having been able to salvage what Matt and I had, but knowing that he’d found someone that he was soon to marry was relieving. At least he was happy. But was I happy? At the time, no. Probably not. I had a husband, three children (the youngest of the three being ours) that I was raising, a part-time job and a whole lot of baggage that LOVED to resurface from time to time. It was day-to-day, there were smiles whenever one of the kids did something wonderful, or during the occasional times my husband would smile…but genuine happiness? That remained a foreign concept. I suppose I should talk about the ‘BH’ (before husband) time period, though, before I delve into the rest of the issues that hold significance. It just seemed to make more sense to discuss Matt, first, as he was my first failed relationship, and the first example of what unreasonable decisions that the after-effects of trauma can drive a person to make. Although Matt’s and my breakup was my decision, it was a choice I’d made without fully considering what it all meant for me. Matt had been my anchor; the guy I’d been saving myself for. My not being able to tell him the truth (about how it had been TAKEN from me and that I’d not given it willingly) was a weak moment, built on fear – and moments like this are built up on even further as time goes on. One weak moment triggers the next. I don’t have any other explanation for the shameful subsequent behaviors that I’m going to be sharing next. Before I get into that, it should be noted that I felt, in a way, freed of my promise to Matt. There was nothing left to save, nothing holding me back, anymore, to the idea that Matt was my one and only. I wasn’t a virgin, anymore, and I’d had sex. The adult version of me can certainly say that virginity was MUCH more than physical; but the eighteen-year-old version of myself wasn’t able to form that conclusion. So, now that I was no longer ‘pure,’ a new perception of myself was born; a self-image that although inaccurate, proved to be the driving force behind the poor choices I’d make next. The men (I guess I can call them all ‘men’ as they, as well as I, were all over the age of 18 and considered ‘adults’) started out being close to my age, if not a year or two older than me. It was 1997, now, and it was around the time when AOL (America Online) was the hottest new thing. The internet, the world wide web, dial-up connecting with that familiar high-pitched screech at the end - was all brand-new, very exciting, and ALL people talked about. I was introduced to chat rooms rather quickly, mostly because I had a clunky desktop computer that my father had given to me for school use, and for some reason, the internet (by 'internet,' I mean primarily the world wide web 'searches') never worked properly for me. I got to exploring one evening and discovered that there were so many OTHER benefits to AOL than simply the ‘You’ve Got Mail!’ announcement upon log-in, and surfing the information superhighway – I don’t think I even knew how to do this until later. For the most part, my online visits were used for the purpose of sending emails back and forth, and for browsing the chat rooms that were themed. There was a teen chat, location-based chats, and, I was shocked to see, a Rape Survivors chat. When it came to the latter chat, I kept a distance for a while. I’d go in but for the most part, I’d just sit and observe. These were the days when instant messaging was insanely popular, and there were many, many conversations with men who were, sadly, visiting the chat room for the wrong reasons. I did very much want to share my story, to talk, to speak with someone who could relate, but AOL’s chat rooms were NOT monitored, and the members were WAY out of control. Questions were rude, and very few people actually spoke IN the chat room. Instead, everyone was pinging each other privately, asking for sordid details and hoping to ‘hook up.’ Each room held about 28 people at a time, and of the 28, perhaps a small handful were actually survivors. The rest, I believe now, were voyeurs or simply people who were curious or got their jollies from hearing of others’ pain or horror stories. As an adult, I know and understand now that people like this exist – but being an 18-year-old who wanted so much to talk, to make connections, to be listened to – it didn’t matter who a person was or what their curiosities were based upon. They were there, they were listening, and responding to me. See, offline, I had nobody to talk to. My parents remained oblivious, the very few friends I had in my classes only really knew the ‘me’ I was post-rape – so they really didn’t notice any ‘changes’ in me. In a way, it was nice to not have to explain what had become different. At that point in time, moving forward was important, and leaving things in the past, where they would be forgotten. (Yes, we can laugh at that thought – it wasn’t until much later that I’d realize that this kind of thing wasn’t able to be forgotten!) Now, I’m not saying everyone was like that. I’ve met and still am in contact with some very genuine people – people I’ve known for that long. Those were the lasting friendships. But while there are lasting friendships, there were other lasting impressions made, although not favorable ones. My first consensual encounter was with another deaf guy. It wasn’t even a good experience – it was more memorable simply because it was the first time I’d said ‘yes.’ And I remember thinking when it was over – wait, THIS was what all the hype was about???? Not only was it a little physically painful (whether it was due to body memories, or simply inexperience) but it was also over in seconds. And that night, I said to myself, ‘I’m not a virgin anymore.’ I guess there was more expectation of losing virginity than what I was seeing, though. Pre-trauma, I’d heard sex was supposed to bring pleasure. It was supposed to be special. It was supposed to be something people LIKED to do, something that kept people going for more. It was what my friends, (at least, the very few friends I had at the time) talked about doing with their boyfriends. All I had to show (or tell) for it was a ten-second experience that left me overall unimpressed and unsatisfied. It’d not occurred to me that this was something I had to build up to, something I had to be comfortable with in order for it to work – not now and not at this time. Instead, I became increasingly convinced that there was something wrong with me, and it had to be fixed. I continued to sign into AOL and to enter chat rooms. It was more so for the connections and wasn’t really for the purpose of finding in-person companionship, but I still got asked on dates by men in the location-based chat rooms. One was a boyfriend for about a month, before he decided that there was someone else he wanted to date. In hindsight, I recall seeing that as a rejection because I likely wasn’t an exciting date. Yes, there was sex, but there was also that inability of mine to invest emotionally. I wasn’t finding pleasure there, either. I guess there was MORE expected of me than sex, especially with someone who was a potential boyfriend, and relationship-wise, I just wasn’t measuring up to HIS expectation. Our breakup was quick, he was distant for a while and eventually sent me an email saying he wanted to remain friends. There was a lax ‘okay, that’s fine,’ response, and I never saw him again. I did eventually (MANY years later) Facebook-search him and saw he’d settled down with a girl who LOOKED as if she were more into him than I ever was. There was love in her eyes, there was joy. There had been NONE of that in mine when we’d dated. Oh, how could I blame him for turning elsewhere? Honestly, maybe that was the problem. Emotionally, my heart perhaps still belonged to Matt – or it possibly just didn’t belong to anyone. It makes sense to assume it was just being kept to myself, it was chained up, and to solidify it, there was a brick wall in front of it. I’m sure this was another after-effect of the rape – but it wasn’t something I was working on at the moment, either. Not with therapy, not with counseling, nothing beyond browsing the self-help section at the bookstore because I’d heard ‘The Courage To Heal’ workbook was worth buying. I had a block in place when it came to interacting with others about my trauma and my reasons behind this particular wall – because I simply didn’t want to, I didn’t want to have to un-barricade my heart and make it privy to being broken again. And so, I chose to just not care, moving forward. I made horrible choices. I didn’t care about my personal safety. I met man after man online, and I’d end up meeting and sleeping with most of them. They weren’t in it for the emotional connection. They just wanted sex. And being that I was avoiding emotional attachments at the time, I usually obliged – even if one seemed to want a date first – we’d almost always end up in bed, in a hotel room, in the back seat of a car, and it was the same thing, every time. They’d initiate sexual activity, and I’d allow it to go as far as they wished. I didn’t care if they used condoms, I didn’t ask them to. Most times, they did, but sometimes they didn’t. I didn’t stop to consider STDs, pregnancy, none of those things mattered. I wanted to feel SOMETHING, even if it was occasional pain. It was all a part of my self-destructive plan. I felt numb during the actual sexual activity – there was a bit of shame after the fact, but it wasn’t enough to make me cease behaviors. It instead fed into my desire to feel something…ANYTHING…even if it wasn’t favorable. Over time, my depression got deeper and my behaviors became more risky. I drank heavily, with the goal of being too drunk to feel anything afterwards, should things become physical. It was now an expectation, for all of these random men (and women) were the opposite of Matt and always were ready to go. Perhaps I wasn’t admitting it to myself, but I would secretly hope one of these several partners of mine would finish the job that my rapist seemed to have started. The job of just ending my life. In a way, they were, I was just dying slower than I wanted to. The guy who was into bondage…would he just kill me when he was done? The older, fifty-something car salesman – would he take his enjoyment of rough sex a little further and finish with snapping my neck? The sex itself wasn’t painful most of the time – and even if something were being done that I didn’t especially enjoy, I still kept my mouth shut and allowed them to finish, to satisfy themselves. There were a couple of ‘generous’ partners who wanted to reciprocate, and I’d end up faking it because it wasn’t happening for me, and I was honestly ready for it to be finished. Truthfully, when they were done, I’d be too disappointed that I was still alive and feeling no satisfaction. Just more numbness, more shame, more self-disgust. And these feelings were what drove me down a very dark path consisting of self-injury and more recklessness. I wasn’t in a safe place with all of these thoughts – and it scared me to realize that I’d be disappointed time after time again when none of these men wanted to kill me – they were GETTING what they wanted, which was an easy lay. I was getting absolutely nothing. Yet, the behavior continued – I’d meet people, we’d hook up, and 95% of the time, there would be a sexual encounter. Not all of them were the same, but I’m fairly positive that some were questionable as far as consent was involved, but because I wasn’t the one to initiate, I was also the one who never actually said ‘no,’ either. When things didn’t feel right, I still allowed them to happen. There was almost ALWAYS that memory of what had happened the last time I DID say ‘no.’ It wouldn’t be until MUCH later in life that I’d understand that being silent doesn’t equal consent. At this time, though, I viewed my actually being there, in whatever situation it was, and willingly – as consent. It didn’t matter if it started out comfortable and finished with my feeling the need to hurt myself in some way in the near future – I was there, and I’d let it all happen. It was very, VERY rarely that any of my partners would stop and ask me if I was okay – most all of them were simply too caught up in the moment. This was behavior I was used to when the wasband (if you’re a follower of my blogs, you know that this is how I refer to my ex-husband) entered my life for the first time. He was 29, I was 20. He was introduced to me by a mutual friend who knew a little bit of my depression – she realized that he and I lived 20 minutes away from each other and thought that since he was a police officer, he would be a good resource and someone who could find me ‘help.’ We talked online for several weeks before agreeing to meet. He’d been told of my self-injury tendencies (by our mutual friend) and he did know a little bit more about my past by the time we’d planned to meet at a small corner diner near where he worked. The plan was to have dinner and get to know each other. I remember the first time seeing him – he was pudgy, had a rounded, boyish face, he had hair on his head – although thinning. He was in the middle of a separation with his wife. He had a four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son, that I wouldn’t meet until a bit later. I’m not even sure what it was about him when we first met. He wasn’t without flaws, but then again – neither was I. He was a heavy smoker, something that I KNEW my father would despise. By this point in my life, I’d tried occasional cigarette smoking and never really liked it enough to form a habit. He listened. He talked to me. He didn’t judge anything. He would notice the scratches, bruises, burns on my arms, and ask about them. In a way, it’s a good thing that our mutual friend had supplied him with some background information – I don’t think I could ever FULLY explain to a non-survivor the reasons behind these self-inflicted injuries. He seemed to understand, though, and eventually disclosed that he, too, was a survivor – not of sexual abuse, but of neglect and physical abuse at the hands of his parents. His mother was a drug user. His father was both into drugs and alcohol, and the wasband had left home at the tender age of 15 – he’d moved in with a grandparent and then straight after High School, he’d joined the army. He was someone with a tough façade, but, for a while, (likely for as long as we were still in the ‘dating stages,’) his interior was smooshy. He held my hand when we went for walks, he was gentle, he was kind. He didn’t judge me for any of the marks I’d made on myself. And I think this is what made some of those walls begin to lower – but he was the very first man (since Matt) who held my hands in his and asked my permission to kiss me. I granted him permission, and from that point on, he asked for permission to proceed any further. We didn’t sleep together right away – it wasn’t until we’d been seeing one another for at least a month. This was new to me. While I was ‘getting to know’ the wasband, I had stopped entering chat rooms. I would just talk to him, day in and day out – while he was at work and I was in school, I’d write him letters to give him when I saw him, even if it was going to be later that same day. He became someone I looked forward to seeing, connecting with, sharing with. Kissing. I was starting to enjoy it. I was feeling something. Physically, also, there was a connection that I’d not felt before – not even with Matt, because I’d simply not gotten that far with Matt. While I’d gotten that far (and sometimes further, if that’s even possible) with complete strangers, this was all new to me – this was with someone who seemingly WANTED for me to feel safe with him. He took things slowly, he took his time, he was patient when I needed to stop. It’s possible that what I was feeling wasn’t accurate, though. Because I was now dating the wasband, I was no longer ‘hooking up’ with anybody else. I wasn’t putting myself into risky situations any longer. I was now with ONE guy, who seemingly cared about me, about how I felt. There was no longer a need to find these things elsewhere – it felt NICE to gain this sense of security that I’d never felt before. Then he proposed – we were out for coffee – at a coffee shop that no longer exists today. He presented me with a ring – and asked me to be his wife. I accepted immediately. I’m not sure if it was love, though, that prompted me to say yes – perhaps it was the idea of prolonged security – a safer path to be on than the one I PROBABLY would end up back on if this didn’t work out. And it wasn’t a bad alternative path, not at this point. Here was a guy who seemed to genuinely care about me – a guy who was considerate, a guy who had his own faults that I knew I could accept….he was, after all, accepting of mine. It meant I would become a step-mother. I’d met his children at this point and had such love for them, for spending time with him and the two of them. Despite my mother’s hissy fit when she learned of my plans to move in with him, I left home at 20. She’d never liked the wasband. At least, not in the beginning. “He’s been married before,” she’d say, “why did he break up with his first wife? What went wrong?” (I’d not be able to truthfully answer this until MUCH later, but these were questions my mother had thrown at me, since the day I came home with the announcement that we’d gotten engaged.) I told her that I loved him and was moving on with my plans to live with and marry him. Shortly after moving in with him into his apartment and going to school from a new ‘home,’ things began to change. The changes were slow and gradual, though – in ways that were too minuscule to really make a big deal out of, and I was not seeing the waving red flags. First, it was the small things – he’d take notice of the fact that I didn’t really know how to make coffee. Or how to do laundry. My parents had always done those things, I’d never been on my own. He’d already been married once, had experienced married life once – he’d had a partner in which to run a household, parent children with – things I had absolutely NO experience in. I seriously lacked in life skills – but what I DID have, though, was credit. His debt piled up on MY credit cards, from the very beginning. There was always the promise that he’d pay this bill when he got paid, that one next month, etc. I didn’t think much of it, because really, they were for US. For things we needed. Food, stuff for the apartment, clothes, gas, etc. I paid no attention to the charges – as long as there was a ring on my finger, whatever was mine was his, too. His responsibilities were now also mine – and I thought nothing of putting things onto my credit cards. This, in hindsight, was another HUGE mistake, as it made me file bankruptcy before I was 25. There was one day he’d asked me to wash one of his shirts for work – and I’d had to admit that I didn’t know how. Not one of my finer moments, no, but the look on his face then, DID make me feel about two inches tall. But then we’d both gone down to the laundry room and he’d shown me how to operate the machines – how much change to use, how much detergent, the works. But, now, this became MY job. I did ALL of the laundry, from that point on. I was to ensure he had clean shirts for work – if he didn’t have one, it was my fault. There were times he’d say he loved me, but it still felt as if we were worlds apart – he’d experienced so much more in the course of his nearly 30 years – he’d seen combat and I’d only seen the inside of a classroom. He’d been married before, had children – I’d just left my parents’ house. There were no deal-breakers at this point but it was clear he wanted me to step up, to step in where his first wife had failed to do so. He wanted me to grow up, wanted me to skip ahead, catch up, be where he was in life. He didn’t say so using exact words, but there were little actions of his – little looks, little comments. Including one day, when I’d just gotten out of the shower, “I’d like to have a child with you, soon.” Make no mistake about this – our son was NOT unwanted. He was perhaps rushed, but never unwanted. I was still in school, with two years or so to go – and when the wasband had mentioned having a baby, there WAS a part of me that felt that although I DID want my own child one day, if I didn’t agree to it now, it would become something else that he would view as further resistance toward the life he wanted me to share with him. We were already engaged to be married – there was already commitment, there was job security on his part, there was no real reason not to agree to having a child with him – at least not one good enough to present to him. It would make him happy, after all. He’d said he would let me think about it, and there were a few more sexual encounters in between my ‘nod.’ See, it hadn’t been discussed beyond that day in the bathroom, I’d not thought about what having a child at 21 would mean for me – I thought nothing other than how happy it would make him. I didn’t think I’d be entirely unhappy with having my own child, either. I’d worry about being a mother – I was already becoming a stepmother, but being a mother to my own biological child was a terrifying thought. It was a thought, though, that I was sure plenty of other women shared, at least, until they had their first baby. There were also thoughts of what any baby the wasband and I made together would look like…and that was admittedly nice. Girl or boy? Maybe they’d have his blond hair? Maybe they’d have my freckles. He already had an adorable little girl who looked just like him – and son….would our child look like his or her siblings?? So, that night in October, he’d paused during an intimate moment – a sign that he was ready to finish - and I knew. He was again, asking permission. I didn’t want to spend too much more time over-thinking, over-analyzing, so I gave the nod. When we were finished, he kissed me, and said, “you’re pregnant.” I don’t remember saying anything. I do remember thinking, though – HOW? Was it really this easy? I didn’t know too much about my ovulation cycle at all – I’d also had a LOT of sex – although mostly protected, there was ALWAYS that possibility that it hadn’t worked. Maybe this, too, would take a little time? I did already know from hearing others talk, that sometimes it took a while…maybe this, too, would take several tries? But, sure enough, I WAS pregnant. Whether it was that night, or the within the few times afterwards, I conceived VERY quickly. The wasband, to this day, jokes that our son was a ‘one shot, one kill’ deal. At the time I’m writing this, he’s fathered five, in total. Perhaps there are others from his military era – but there are currently five biological children that we know of. My mother, several years later, would joke that the wasband could get a piece of furniture pregnant. And if furniture could reproduce – that would be true. Our son was born in 2000 and instantly became the love of my life. Any doubts I’d had before – gone. The Son, however, was NOT an easy baby and challenged me in every single way – he was colicky, he had a lactose intolerance, he had to be in my arms CONSTANTLY, which was never an issue for me as much as it was for the wasband – I loved holding my child. This perfect little extension of the wasband and me. He had soft golden hair, beautiful brown eyes, rosy cheeks, tiny little lips and ears that stuck out in an adorable Yoda-like way. He was most peaceful whenever sleeping, and I could stare at this image of perfection for hours on end. Sleep was already hard for me, but now even harder, as the Son VERY rarely slept when he was not in my arms. MANY nights were spent in our living room recliner – for any time a transfer from the arms to the crib was attempted, he’d wake up and scream for the next amount of time it took to get him back to sleep. I was sleep deprived fairly soon – and there was absolutely NO help from the wasband during the day – he worked within walking distance from the house, but rarely came home for lunch. My days were spent tending to not just our son, but also to his daughter and son from wife #1. They needed picking up and dropping off from school. The stepdaughter was sick EVERY other week – it was like clockwork and continued until she was eleven and had her tonsils removed. But she needed to frequently be picked up and brought to the pediatrician, with both boys usually in tow. Their mother usually wasn’t able to take them to the doctor, which, to this day, STILL irritates me – it was enough that my husband was expecting me to take care of his children in his absence, but you’d think that the real mother of these kids would step up whenever needed – especially since I now had an infant. I made the mistake of complaining to the wasband ONCE when the stepdaughter needed to be brought to the doctor in the middle of the day and the baby was napping – it was actually more of a vent than anything, but something to the tune of, ‘why can’t her mother take her?’ I was now ‘lazy.’ I’m sure he had more reasons built up to call me lazy. Time went on and raising three children who had NO concept of tidiness, the housework piled up. The laundry was delayed. Dinner was NEVER ready when he got home. We were now married – we’d tied the knot when the Son was nine months old. I was a horrible wife when it came to keeping everything running smoothly. I was in my very early 20s, and EXHAUSTED. I was ending up doing emergency loads of laundry in the middle of the night, with the Son, who still wasn’t sleeping like a normal child, in the Snuggli thingy that you wear on your torso. You know what they say about exhaustion bringing forth additional stressors, and I was no different. I began to see my husband in a different way than I had a year earlier. Especially when the nightmares, the restless nights, the stray memories started up, again – likely around my traumaversary-time. He was very rarely kind to me anymore – whether that was because now he viewed me as lazy or it was because he was stressed out, too – either way, he was not the man he used to be. He was more critical than he was pleasant, he would joke around (and not about the typical things worthy of joking around – his jokes were hurtful, mean and of the bullying sort) and when his jokes weren’t taken well, he’d shoot me the look of disgust – why couldn’t I take a joke? I had no sense of humor, I guess, and was constantly made to feel badly about it. My depression sank in again. I gained weight, and this was yet another thing that he would chastise me for. I began to spend more time online again – not for the same purpose of my previous online encounters, of course, but more so for friendship, for conversation where I didn’t have to be judged for whatever I might be feeling. For the kindness that I was no longer receiving at home. For connection, for there was none of that, either. For commonality, for I now felt alone in a house FILLED with people. I was an army of one, the ONLY one who knew what I was dealing with, and the only one who cared, too. Although I was not entirely verbal about these things, a LOT of time was spent within the confines of my own mind, while I tried to balance everything else. The wasband was NOT pleased with my being online, though. He’d read over my shoulder, question me about whomever I was speaking with. I’d made the mistake of telling him that one of the people I was speaking with was also a rape survivor and that we were talking about things that had helped her deal/cope. You WOULD have thought I’d told him I was having an illicit affair. He said some pretty hurtful, disgusting things, and pretty much accused me of everything in the book. “Why are you trying to make other people feel sorry for you?” “Your sharing stuff of such a personal nature can be viewed as an emotional affair.” “Nobody wants to hear about these things.” “These personal things need to stay private. It’s not anyone else’s business.” And my favorite: “You’re supposed to talk to ME about these things. Not strangers.” Okay. Fair enough, on the last one. Yes, perhaps he was the one I needed to go to for support, but he wasn’t providing it. Maybe, though, NOW he would ‘step up’ and into a more actively supportive role? Now that I was seeking it elsewhere? You see, I never shut him out. I WOULD tell him about how I was feeling. I HAD. I’d told him a few things while we were still in our dating stages, and he’d been supportive and kind. The problem here, I think, is that he felt this ‘support’ he had given was a one-time thing. It was not something that should continue beyond the initial giving of support. I should now be over this. I should NOT be letting this consume me, anymore. I should be focused on being his wife, being a mother, our home. To him, it was frustrating that I couldn’t do this easily, and to me, it felt as if I was truly broken because of my inability to ‘move on.’ At one point, I suggested going to a therapist, and he’d made this face – one that my daughter, to this day, calls ‘the Trump face.’ Eyes narrow, lip curled upwards. Even better when he’d say, ‘Therapy??’ and refer to it in a tone that was nothing short of belittling – of both me and of the idea of my taking my issues to a therapist. It was enough to make me decide against it entirely; and further paved the way toward option number three – which was to completely withdraw and self-isolate. I stopped reaching out for support, whether it was online or it was offline. I still maintained ‘platonic’ friendships (people from my bowling league, online friendships) but made sure to keep walls up - it seemed to make him the happiest when I did that. He’d ask how I was doing, and my response, if not ‘fine,’ would be met with the ‘you don’t need therapy, do you?’ I became increasingly miserable, but tried to focus on remaining as engaged with his and my children’s lives as possible. I carried on this way, for years. I ignored whatever uncomfortable triggers might have arose along the way – during everyday life, during the night when the nightmares would revisit, during every October that would come and go, during sex with him, which while it wasn’t forceful, it WAS almost ALWAYS initiated by him, emotionless, and devoid of feeling. He had his ‘bedroom routines,’ that I cared nothing for, but like with anything else I didn’t particularly agree with, it became yet another thing for me to remain silent about – even if it was just for the sake of avoiding an unnecessary argument. He was a man that needed consistency in the bedroom – and while I could honestly go for weeks without sex, this NEVER would have flown for him. I never refused him, though I would feel HORRIBLE afterwards – dirty, disgusting, tainted. It didn’t seem to be the right way to feel after sex with your spouse – but like anything else, I ignored these feelings, too. I chose to keep my mouth shut and shoved ANY negative feelings down almost as quickly as they’d surface, because I felt that if he saw me struggling with any of it, there would be MORE looks of disgust, MORE criticism, MORE comments on why I’d not moved on. MORE reason for him to not see me as the perfect wife he’d THOUGHT I’d be on the night he proposed. There was just NO sparkle in his eyes, anymore. In me, there was only emptiness and a yearning for more, for something that seemed impossible to find. And I’d doomed myself to all of it, I’d chosen to adopt his mindset, even if I didn’t necessarily feel there was anything ‘right’ about it. We had our daughter in 2006. I’d have liked to have her sooner, but after how difficult a baby the son was, the wasband had always said he didn’t want any more children. (Yes, laughable now, that he’s got six – five of his own and one belonging to his current wife!) I’m not sure if he’d sensed my overall unhappiness and that was what changed his mind, but he did eventually ask if we should try again. Thinking this would make a difference; even the smallest bit of a difference, I agreed to it. I DID want more of my own children. Where there was a VERY noticeable void with HIM, there was never one when it came to my son. He had unconditional love, he cared nothing about what I might be struggling with, he’d just climb into my lap and I’d instantly feel comforted. I loved NO ONE as much as I loved him. And the idea of having someone else to love, to nurture, was certainly appealing. I DID want a little girl, and knew that whe opportunity likely wouldn’t present again if I’d passed on it now. It took three months of trying before we conceived the daughter. There were times where he was overly loving and sad to say, it’s likely because I was pregnant. He was more gentle with his words and his touch. He did some stuff around the house, mostly when I’d hit my third trimester. He’d barked at the rest of the kids to clean up their rooms, their toys off the floor so that ‘your mother doesn’t step on them and hurt herself or the baby.’ I knew this change in him was likely temporary – and that what had happened after the son was born, would likely happen again after I’d had the daughter. I was right. The daughter was not as difficult as the son was. She was not colicky, she was fine with being put down into a swing or a rocker, she was content with being placed in front of the television while I went about normal chores. But, now, I had FOUR children and a husband who worked from seven in the morning until five in the evening – and his expectation that I’d have to (flawlessly) hold down the fort, remained the same. With three out of four being school-aged, there was ALWAYS the chance one would have to be picked up, one would be home sick and have to be taken to the doctor’s office, one would forget a science project was due until the NIGHT before…there was absolutely NO help from him when he got home. He’d have his dinner and retreat into the living room and sit in his recliner for the rest of the night. He’d complain (from his chair) that the house was untidy, there were dishes in the sink, dinner wasn’t ready, laundry was piled up, kids’ rooms were a shambles, the floor hadn’t been swept, vacuumed, etc. There was that occasional ‘what did you even DO around here, all day long?’ I’d shoot back, ‘taking care of a baby is a full-time job!’ He’d scoff and rattle off a list of things he’d gotten accomplished before noon – and top it off with, ‘I bust my ass all day long, so when I come home, I want to not have to handle anything at home.’ Yes, he actually thinks that’s how a household is run. That duties are separate. The man goes to work and the woman does everything at home. So, because he works most of the day, (and let’s not forget, he gets MOST of his heavy work done before noon!) anything having to do with the house and with the kids, is on me. Where’s the partnership, here? Are we forgetting that two of these kids aren’t even biologically mine? And don’t get me wrong – I NEVER treated his elder son and daughter any differently than I treated my own. I even LOVED them as if they were my own. Whenever I told anyone about my kids, I never said I had two children – I said had four. There was just ALWAYS a shred of existing resentment, toward him and toward their mother – for not stepping in when things were noticeably overwhelming. Knowing that I was not only taking care of what was REQUIRED for me to take care of, but also going above and beyond that to make sure HIS elder two children had stability and security in their lives, even if it meant compromising my own happiness. What did I want? A thank-you? No. That’s not what I wanted. A little recognition would have been nice, though. I did it all without a complaint. These kids shouldn’t have to suffer because their mother was stupid and and their father preferred for ME to be the more attentive parent. I wouldn’t have minded it so much, either, if he would have just occasionally said, “I appreciate all you do for my kids, for me.” Those words NEVER came. Instead, the criticism came. The put-downs, the consistent mention of where I would fall short. He also NEVER had my back in any of it – he would undermine me – CONSTANTLY – and in front of the kids, too. If I complained that one didn’t clean their room properly, his response would be, ‘that’s where you have to step in and supervise.’ These kids could do NOTHING wrong – it was always MY fault if they didn’t do what they needed to do. Even his eldest, who at the time was 12-13 years old – whenever I complained to him that she wasn’t doing what was asked of her, his response was, I’m too hard on her, I’m not willing to help her. At 13, my mother was NOT helping me clean my room, or perform simple chores. I was doing that, myself, and when asked. My mother did do me an injustice by not making me do my own laundry – but that wasn’t even what he was complaining about. And this was just plain bullshit – I was to drop everything else I had to deal with during the course of a day, and help a pre-teen clean her room? I didn’t make the mess. I shouldn’t have to assist anyone over the age of six in the cleaning and tidying of their bedroom. But I did – and this push was now coming from the man who stated that I had absolutely no life skills? What favors was he now doing his children? His children, who, currently and in present day, now have absolutely no life skills??? (and YES, this includes my two, who, over time, have become lazy slobs!) Rather than things improving with the arrival of our daughter, they seemingly became worse. He’d come home in a cranky mood, EVERY day. There was less frequently a smiling moment. We were both miserable, despite sharing four children, having a (very small and cramped) home and our physical health intact. We rarely spoke to one another, and when he DID speak to me, it was not usually gently. I began to ‘rebel,’ in very small ways. I waited until he left for work in the mornings, and I’d boot up the computer. Again, I felt the need for connection, for friendship, to feel less alone. While I didn’t care too much about what he wanted, as far as reaching out ‘beyond the home,’ I was still careful to NOT allow him to see what I was doing online. My internet browser history was promply deleted as soon as his car pulled into the driveway. Anyone I spoke to through messengers, was informed that my husband could not ‘see’ us speaking, so if it was later in the day, they knew to let me make the first contact. There was absolutely NOTHING inappropriate about my conversations – I was never unfaithful to the wasband. I, however, knew that It would make him angry to learn that I’d 1) started talking about my past trauma again, meaning I wasn’t 'over it,' yet, and 2) it was with people that ‘had no business knowing about my personal life.’ In hindsight, I do wonder if a small part of him feared being pegged as the one who was unreasonable and irrational – but I suppose that’s something I’ll never know the answer to. I knew there was absolutely nothing that I should be ashamed of, but there was always that fear of being MADE to feel as if I were doing him an injustice by spending my time the way I wanted to spend it. I didn’t want him questioning my conversations or online activity – so I made sure to hide it all. It was simply the path of least resistance. While I didn’t fear any physical blowback, should he ever discover how I was spending my days, it was the emotional response that scared me more. My husband NEVER struck me in anger – let that be known. He, however, had a way of battering someone with his words and his often unreasonably strong opinions. Regardless of my ‘rebellion,’ I still tended to my baby/toddler. I balanced the cleaning and childcare and dubbed the half-hour before his arrival home the ‘crunch time’ and would scurry through the house, making it look as if I HAD done some cleaning. It was SIMPLY just a matter of there being clothes on the floor, or stuff on the table that needed to be put away, or a quick sweep of the kitchen floor. I began to put in as much effort as he’d previously said I was. Why not, right? I might as well REALLY be the fat, lazy wife he’d always said I was. It was, in fact, a spring day in 2007 when I found After Silence. I’d been conversing with someone else, a fellow survivor that I’d told the wasband that was a parent of a child with a hearing and speech impairment (because THAT commonality was okay to have) and it was she who provided me the link to AS – saying, ‘try this place.’ I registered an account with AS and began to look around. The interactions between the members, the staff – it all was so wonderful to see. I quickly felt compelled to become a part of all of it. And so, every day, in between feedings, diaper changes, housework and errands, I was browsing AS and making the connections I’d been denied for so many years. As time went on, I felt MUCH less alone and I cared less and less about what he’d think about the whole thing. I carried on with my ‘plan’ and he was none the wiser. I made friends here, and looked forward to spending time on the site. It was a Godsend to me – a home away from home. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when he, after a while, came home from work and asked me while I was preparing dinner – ‘what do we have in common other than the kids?’ For the life of me, I couldn’t answer. I thought about it for a full minute, though. We didn’t like the same TV shows. We didn’t share views. Well, we WOULD – mine would be ‘stupid,’ while his was right. Every time. We didn’t see eye to eye on ANYTHING. He might’ve thought we did because whenever there was a heated debate, he’d turn to me and ask, ‘am I wrong?’ and for the sake of avoiding an argument, I’d shake my head in silence. Even if yes, he was wrong. Even if none of it made sense. Even if it meant that something I believed to be right would be dismissed. There was NOTHING in common in the bedroom. He liked things I despised. He was hard, I was too sensitive. When I’d come to the conclusion that the only thing we likely both equally enjoyed were certain foods. “I don’t know,” I finally told him. “I was thinking, maybe we should get a divorce,” he said. I don’t know whether he expected to hear that we REALLY had nothing in common or he’d expected me to surprise him with my answer. “Okay,” I shrugged. Perhaps I’d answered too quickly and surprised us both. Either way, it was an out…and one I needed to take. An opportunity. I’d been imprisoned within this loveless marriage for FAR too long, and I was NOT seeing any ways that this would change. Not anytime soon. He’d never change. He’d remain this horrible bully that I’d grown to despise, despite being married to him. He nodded and retreated into the living room and I sobbed silently as I continued to prepare dinner. Not because I was upset over this marriage ending – but because this, like everything else – was on HIS terms. Although it was best, and I knew it – I still wouldn’t have left him first. I was loyal, to the end. I cried for my children, who loved us both equally…especially the son, whom I knew would take this news especially hard. And he did. Days later, we sat him down and explained to him that Mommy and Daddy were getting a divorce. We were, however, both still going to remain a constant in his life and that he’d be spending an equal amount of time with us both, and that we’d still be ‘together but separate.’ The wasband did most of the talking – I was unable to do much other than nod in agreement. This was all just so surreal. He had become a different man. At first, I suspected he knew he’d been the one to turn my life upside down, and he was the one who was going to be walking away. So when I told him, yet, again, that I wanted to go see a therapist, he surprisingly agreed. ‘Go ahead,’ he said, ‘I think it’s a good idea.’ Two weeks went by. Now that we had a ‘plan,’ he said very little about my therapy, my online activity, or even about the housework not being done. I questioned that, honestly, especially for the first few weeks following his request to get divorced. It all made sense when he casually mentioned that there was a woman that he’d like to begin to get to know. He’d met her online, playing poker. She lived an hour or so away from us, and was a single mother, having just gone through her own divorce. THREE weeks after he’d told me he wanted a divorce, he was wanting my blessing to go see someone else? He did add, ‘If you’re not okay with it, I won’t.’ We hadn’t even gotten OUR paperwork started. I wasn’t okay with it, no, but I wasn’t going to hold him back, either. Especially if it meant he would be around less. And even more especially if he’d been seeing this woman for a little while already. That’s what my gut instinct was telling me – THIS was why he asked me for a divorce. He’d already proven he couldn’t be alone, couldn’t do his own laundry, couldn’t do his own cooking or cleaning. So he’d waited until he had his third wife (she’d eventually become his third wife) lined up before asking me to grant him the divorce. He was going to make sure HE was all set. Of course, if I were to ask him today, he’d deny that. He’d deny ALL of it. Upon my ‘do what you want,’ he began to see her, and spend a lot of time with her. I did put my foot down, though, and made it clear to him that this woman would NOT be meeting my kids – not anytime soon. He agreed, although reluctantly. He would come home after work, spend a few hours with the kids, and then sometimes drive an hour away to where she lived – sometimes he’d spend the night there and go to work from there in the morning. He’d made plans to move out, but eventually realized that he couldn’t afford first, last and security. So he approached me again, and asked if he could stay at home a little bit longer, until he was able to come up with a little extra money for an apartment. As is, he was only ‘home’ a few nights a week. I told him that was fine, but he’d have to sleep on the couch. You’d have thought I told him he had to bathe in his own shit. “I work every day. You’re going to kick me out of my bed and make me sleep on the couch? I’m the one who should be more comfortable.” I looked at him. There he was, again, looking down at me, with that narrow-eyed look of disgust. I was, once again, completely wrong. What I’d said to him was appalling. So, like always, I’d backed down. “Fine,” I told him, “You can sleep in the same bed. But we are NOT having sex.” “Why not?” He smirked. “We’re still married, after all.” I just looked at him for a minute before walking away with no response. For a while, he adhered to my wishes. He’d come home from seeing her, or on nights he wasn’t seeing her, and he’d go to bed on his own, usually after me. I was even more exhausted those days, more so than when I was when I was a teen. I was spending more time on AS, too, for he now no longer asked any questions about what I was doing with my free time. He no longer cared – as long as he was free to do with himself what he wanted. I’d secured a staff position by then, on AS, as a chat room moderator. It was where I spent most days and nights – it was where I felt happiest, most wanted, most needed, most valuable. I was still cautious, especially on the nights that he did come home. I didn’t want him to know much anything about AS, so whenever he was around, I kept my distance from the site. There was that one night when he’d came home late from being out with her. I was already three-quarters of the way asleep. Nearly down for the count, but not enough that I didn’t feel him get into bed as he normally did. Moments later, he was on top of me, and was having sex with me. I didn’t protest, I didn’t say no. I, for the moment, felt that the best course of action was to do nothing. A sense of familiarity sank in. This was the father of my children, we were still legally married, even though he was no longer ‘with’ me. Maybe I WAS being ridiculous, after all. Even though none of this felt right, it felt a little too familiar to be considered wrong. He was not rough, nor did he move to reciprocate – when he was finished, he simply rolled over and went to sleep. The following morning, he had a smile on his face. I want to say this was likely a weekend – for the kids were home, and I remember being in the kitchen. “You know – I can still see us doing what. Ten years from now. Even if we’re with other people.” Again, there were no words. I simply stared at him. I’m not sure if I was expecting him to say he’d made a mistake, that he no longer wanted his other woman, he wanted me – he didn’t want a separation, that he wanted us to go to counseling, to fix this, fix whatever had gone wrong in our marriage. At that point, I’m not sure if I’d have agreed to it, but it was, at least, something to hope for, even in the slightest bit, the morning after sex – something different than what I was getting from him now. But no, here he was, basically saying he wanted his cake, and he wanted to eat it, too. He was now cheating on his mistress – with his wife. Imagine that? When I’d finally managed to ask him what she’d think of it, his response was, ‘she won’t know...she’d kill me if she did know. You won’t tell her, right?’ I sat on that for a couple weeks. He’d not tried again to have sex with me – I think I feigned a period in order to keep him at bay for a few days, but then there was a time where opportunity simply didn’t present, or I’d kept my distance. He was now in the process of LOOKING for an apartment – but likely wasn’t going to find one that would allow for his specific needs – he was a heavy smoker, he wanted his dog with him, his credit was shit, he needed extra space for when the kids came to visit. Although I wanted him gone, so that I could move on with my own life, I still felt that I owed it to the kids to ensure that their father wasn’t homeless. If I were paying anything toward the house, the bills, I certainly had more leverage in order to eject him – but I didn’t have a penny to my name. I had absolutely nothing. There was one additional time when he was in the shower, and called me in. Thinking he needed a towel or toilet paper, I poked my head in asking what he needed. He whipped open the curtain and asked me to join him. Saying no seemed to take too long. I remember staring at him, thinking to myself – what is wrong with him? Doesn’t he SEE that this is wrong? Doesn’t he see what this is doing to me? CLEARLY, I’m not into it and I’d said nothing to allude to wanting any of it to continue. But – the words did escape my lips – somehow. “No. I can’t.” With that, I left him in the bathroom and locked the door from the inside behind me so that I couldn’t get back in, should he call me again. I then went and tended to the kids – half proud of myself for having done what I did, and half terrified. Was he going to yell at me, was he going to verbally harass me for having told him no? In the eight years we’d been married, I NEVER told him ‘no.’ Never. Whatever he wanted, I agreed to. Whatever he asked, I did without question. Whatever he believed, even if it seemed a bit unreasonable, I said I believed, too – even if I didn’t. I didn’t want him angry with me, I didn’t want there to be an argument, I didn’t want him to continue to tell me how lazy or stupid or fat or otherwise undesirable I was. Imagine my surprise when he came out, fully dressed, and pulled me aside. He leaned in and said, “thanks for keeping me honest.” Another silent nod on my part. I’m glad to say he never again approached me for sex. While this was a good thing, it was also VERY damaging – and I’ll explain why. You see – it was the one time that I had the nerve to say no to him. A time where it WOULD have been easier, although equally as damaging, to give in and do whatever it was that he was asking. And now he was okay with my response? He wasn’t going to treat this like any of the other arguments we’d had in the past, and resort to nastiness and belittlement? Were all of the past issues I’d had with him – now my fault? Had I said no to him in the beginning, would I still be in this position? Would a ‘no’ any other time have been listened to, as this one was? What about that other night? Would he have stopped if I said ‘no’ to him? Was ALL of this entirely my doing?? The mind is a relentless, vicious machine when it wants to be – and for a while, I allowed it to continue to run, to allow myself to self-blame, rather than shut it down. He was still living at home, I didn’t feel safe enough to ‘shut down’ this machine, yet. And so, I carried on as I normally would, while he began to spend less and less time at home. Around this time, was when J entered my life. You all know J from my previous posts, my blogs. She’s my better half, my best friend, my lover, the one I trust the most, the one who is my everything. And at the time of this posting, she is my partner of ten years. I had met her here on AS – and we were friends first and foremost. After talking with her daily for a while, I realized how much we had in common. There was much more to our friendship, and we were both beginning to slowly realize it. I’d never been with someone who had similar trauma in her past. There was a connection here that I’d never felt before. I found myself talking about things I’d never discussed before – and felt safe doing so. This, too, was new. I felt understood, I felt validated. I did worry about what the wasband would say when I found myself becoming attracted to her – but surprisingly, he said nothing negative…unless you count, ‘you were always a lesbian,’ negative. He instead smiled, and said, ‘it is what it is.’ Granted, it was probably because he now had his new woman, and was glad to see me considering ‘moving on.’ And, so, I did. I suppose there’s more to the story relating to my marriage and after it ended, but I’ve now reached the point where fast-forwarding is a little bit easier. Perhaps installment three will be due a re-do in a few years from now (or 12?) but, for now, there SEEMS to be further processing to do. I thought I'd be finished at the end of this installment, but as I sit here day after day, I'm realizing that it's not as easy to reflect upon these things, and my writing is not as 'flowy' as the previous two installments. I am getting stuck more often than I want to, and I'm feeling more need to put it away. In the beginning, I was putting this away for days. Now, I've realized that I've put it away for weeks - and if I don't finish it now, it'll likely be forgotten for another decade. To summarize what I've been up to lately: I’ve restarted therapy, after several years, as there are now things that have come up more recently for me – things I know I’ve not had the time or even the desire to deal with. At least, properly. I know that I’ve recognized that I am a victim of not only CSA and of rape – but also of domestic violence. I’d always thought of DV as the beatings, the punching, the broken bones, the visits to the hospital…this is not what was happening to me. My ex’s abuse of me was not physical – it was emotional. It was verbal. It was mental. Before returning to AS after a lengthy hiatus, I didn’t even KNOW what gaslighting was. I do now, because that was, also, what happened. This realization has floored me - because I'd been so blind to it. All of it. I've come to realize that I'm not completely free of his grasp; of his influence. There IS still difficulty saying ‘no' to him. There is still that fear of letting others in – because that was once not allowed, or acceptable. I am not, by any means, where I want to be. Not yet. In some ways, not all of the puppet strings have successfully been severed and I'd be lying if I said I was 'healed' from this. Safe to say, though, that this is a healing process that I've restarted and have been diligently working on, especially recently. I'm starting school one week from today - after taking a 20-year-long vacation...a break that HE encouraged me to prolong. I can't entirely blame this on him as I did agree to have our son and the desire to go back never really presented itself - but even after I'd married him and born him children, he'd made sure I was too busy to focus on anything other than him, the house, the kids. I never came first. It NEVER mattered what I wanted - THIS was my purpose in life. I was secondary to everyone else, and I believed that this is how it should be. I don't believe it, anymore, though. Going back to school is just one of the first steps toward my getting to where I want and need to be. I think it is safe to say that I am where I am now because of the events of the previous installments, and that recognizing this has been yet another step in the right direction. I don't know where I'll be in three years, and I know that question has been asked...but I CAN say that I am a little closer to answering that than I was a year ago. So, perhaps, this is why I should end on the note that I’m still healing, and why I must admit that I still have quite a bit of work to do. But for now – I want this to be where installment three ends – and hopefully there won’t be a fourth installment to write, but instead a more confident ending could be added to this one. Let's just say, for argument's sake, that my next installment is simply yet to be lived and experienced. And it'll all be shared via blogs! In closing, I'd like to thank you all for reading each of these installments. I've unlocked this board to responses, and do hope to hear from anyone that can relate, that understands, that can validate who I am, and the reasons for being who I am. I am sending my love to each and every one of you - I've so much appreciation for those who choose to walk this path alongside me. There is indeed strength in numbers. I believe this, 100%. - Capulet
  2. Also posted in Share Your Story: Installment Two: The Party I am now fast-forwarding, (or rewinding, depending on how old I was in your minds upon completing reading of the first installment) to when I was seventeen years old as I bring to you all, installment 2 of my story. This is the full, uncensored version of what was shared back in 2007. One would think that as time goes on, you’re likely to forget some details. While that may be the case for some, I WISH that was true for me. Time has gone on, but in some ways, remained stationary – frozen, almost – and I still remember the details of that night as if it were only yesterday. And for the last nearly twenty-three years, it HAS been ‘yesterday.’ While I know a lot of work has been put into my healing efforts, the memory of the work isn’t as strong as the memory of the actual event. It’s stayed fresh, although I do have to admit that time HAS made it sting less. In this newer version of my story, I’ve decided not to talk about the ‘fluff stuff;’ by this, I mean the benign, unimportant events leading up to what happened on the night of October 4th, 1996. The pre-story of having gone to a classmate’s house, my lying to my father, telling him that I was going to be working on a school paper, my thinking this was a good way to jump-start my social status. Why not talk about these things? Because they’re not important, now. Originally, I perhaps felt partially to blame for what happened. It was a classic case of, ‘well, if I hadn’t been there, this wouldn’t have happened.’ Perhaps I was waiting for someone to say to me, ‘yes, that’s exactly why this happened. You were in a place you did not belong, and at a time that you shouldn’t have been there.’ Believe it or not, there WAS the occasional question of ‘why?’ but I have come to realize that there simply is not an answer good enough to justify what happened. I could search for the rest of my life and I’d still never find one. There IS one very important detail that you should know about me, though, before I delve deeper into this part of my story. If you’ve read through my first installment, you know that I was born deaf. This is something I don’t like bringing attention to – unless circumstances make it that I have to. I don’t share this with many people unless, well, I think there will be a reason they need to know. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with it. It just plays a COLOSSAL role in who I am. While it doesn’t define me, it also does. And this, as much as I HATE to admit – is a HUGE contributor to what happened that night. Whenever I think back on my trauma, it also ALWAYS comes back to this. As a matter of fact, it plays such a role in BOTH of my traumas, although I cannot remember one of them. I guess the running joke on this is – even from the very beginning, I didn’t want to hear it…it being drama, bullshit, and whatever else makes me momentarily (and rarely) appreciate my lack of hearing. My mother and father wanted me to speak, so they were quick to alienate me from the deaf community and (my mother mostly) moved Heaven and Earth to ensure that I functioned as a ‘normal’ hearing person. And, to be ‘normal’ was always something I had to work extra hard at – with certain limitations that were beyond my control, I had to overcompensate, all under the impression that this was what was ‘wrong’ with me and that it was never something I could fix. This was simply the hand I’d been dealt. And now – back to the story. To summarize, I was 17 and was at a house party. It wasn’t a frat house – it was simply someone’s home – off campus. I’d gone with an acquaintance from one of my classes – thinking this was what the stereotypical college kids did with friends on a Friday night. To call her a friend is inaccurate, for she never once had my best interests at heart and likely invited me to accompany her to this party so that she could delay working on the research paper we were assigned to complete together. She probably still, to this day, thinks I’m angry with her for forcing me to find another way home at the end of the night. I’d only seen her a small handful of times afterwards – once when I finally picked up my car, which was parked near her house – and a few times in class. I made very small talk and avoided her at all costs. We’d never spoken of what happened; which was my choice. She was the enemy. I wanted her out of sight and out of mind – and thankfully, I got my wish – we were fortunate to not share any more classes after that semester. And for a long, long time, possibly YEARS, I WAS angry with her. I even blamed her. It was, after all, because of her – the whole thing was her fault, simply because she was having too good a time to leave when I wanted to. For years, hers was the face that popped up into my mind when thinking back to that night. No, it wasn’t the ONLY face, but it was still a face that shouldn’t have been as much a focus as it was. HIS face is the one I see now. The only one I see when I think back to that night. There is no longer any blame for her. While I still unfondly remember her face, I’ve mentally connected the image of it to a ‘type’ of person that I’ve vowed to NEVER trust again. That’s the face I see when people around me are acting recklessly, in a manner that reminds me of the behavior of those around me at that party on that night. Although nearly 23 years have elapsed, I still remember. It’s funny, isn’t it? How we can recall with ease the moments BEFORE trauma, but draw blanks when it comes to the actual event? I cannot bring myself to forget their oblivious, stoned, drunk-off-their-asses expressions as I followed the man who would forever change my life through smoke-infused hallways. The obnoxious laughing, the booming music, the glazed-over looks, the tongues hanging out, the god-awful SMELL of weed. All of these things added to my overall discomfort of the whole scene and I wanted nothing more than to go home. This is where I will issue a trigger warning for those who are still reading. I am going to be sharing some things that I’ve never written before. If you’re not in a good frame of mind, please close this and bookmark it for another day. I totally wish it were possible to turn this night on and off in my brain – and there are times I have succeeded in doing so. But instead of an on/off switch, there’s a dimmer – sometimes it’s bright, sometimes it can be reduced into the background so that I can carry on as normal, whatever that means. The very purpose of this update is for me to be able to shine a brighter light on some of those things that I’ve kicked into the shadows for as long as I can remember, in hopes that they’d not find their way back into the light. We all know how well that works, right? So – trigger warning now in effect, for several details and for rape. The first thing I noticed about my attacker was how incredibly good-looking he was. Sporting thick jet-black hair, broad shoulders, a dimple, a complexion hinting that he was of either Spanish or Italian descent, ‘Eddie’ was undeniably handsome. I’d later learn that even the most physically beautiful people are truly capable of evil, of ugliness. For the moment, though, I remember having to remind myself that I had a boyfriend that I’d been seeing for two years prior to this night. I had my boyfriend in mind when I politely declined when Eddie, after overhearing my drunk acquaintance tell me that she was not ready to leave, offered me a ride home. There were a couple reasons, really, for my passing on the ride home – one – I didn’t see a drink in his hand, but I didn’t know if he’d been drinking before he approached me, and two – I didn’t think any girl should be in a car with a guy who wasn’t her boyfriend. Things might happen! I suppose, in hindsight, knowing that Eddie turned out to be the predator I was unaware he was at the moment, that was likely his original plan – for something to happen. Instead, I asked him if he could make a phone call for me – something that I’d asked several strangers to do for me in the past. I had someone from the campus office call my father for me when I’d left the lights on and now the car wouldn’t start. Someone to call my mother when my wallet was stolen. And in this case, for Eddie to call one of my other friends to see if she could possibly come pick me up from this disastrous party. He seemed slightly taken aback by my request, but agreed to make the call. “Come with me,” he said, “I know where it will be a little bit quieter.” We weaved through a crowd of other partygoers, went up a flight of stairs and eventually got into a bedroom, where he locked the door behind him. I’d gone in first, wanting to believe nothing more that this man was going to help me to get home. I am sure there were other phones in the house – he insisted that being in one of the rooms farthest from the speakers downstairs would be best and he’d be able to hear. There was the phone on a night table, next to the bed. It was black, the buttons glowed. The bed was along the east wall, there was a small adjoining half-bathroom straight ahead. Along the west wall, there was a window, a desk and a chair. There was a small area rug and there was a pair of 20 or 30-pound barbells rested on the floor next to the bathroom door. If this was a bedroom belonging to a teenage or college-aged boy, it was by far one of the cleanest I’d ever seen. The computer sitting atop the desk was on, but had been left idle for a good while – the screen-saver was activated and there was this bouncing, morphing shape…it would first be a ball, then a square, then spiky, then something else, all the while changing colors – before returning into the original ball shape. Background was black – it was the first thing I saw when entering the room and little did I know it would become an unpleasant reminder. I didn’t know what the definition of a trigger was, until this became my first one. It was a very popular screen-saver in the late 90’s, too, so it was every-freaking-where. At libraries, at doctor’s offices, on computer screens at electronics stores… Eddie went straight toward the phone. He sat on the bed close to the night table and patted the seat next to him. I sat, but not too close. He picked up the phone and asked me what number I wanted to call. I gave him the first name of one friend of mine that didn’t go to school with me, but lived somewhat close to my Dad’s house. I figured she’d likely let me crash at her house, and then perhaps she could bring me back to pick up my car in the morning, so that I wouldn’t have to tell my father the truth. I was also admittedly trying to think of another ‘cover story’ to tell my father – I certainly didn’t want him to know I was in this predicament. I recited her phone number from memory. He dialed. “It’s busy,” he said after a few seconds with the receiver to his ear. I had no reason not to believe him – this friend of mine was one of those who’d have her phone surgically attached to her ear if it were possible. He asked if I wanted to wait a few minutes and then try again. All I could think of was how much I wanted to go home, versus going back out into the insanity outside these four walls, so I nodded in agreement. He hung up the receiver. That’s when the questions began. At first, they were innocent. It was when I learned his name and his age. Eddie, 25. Twenty. Five. My initial thought was that this was the house of someone he knew. He claimed that he was a friend of a friend, and he didn’t live in the area. He was just ‘passing through’ and heard that there was a party and came down. He asked where I was going to school and what I was majoring in. I told him. He told me he was in between jobs at the moment. He then asked if I had a boyfriend. Let’s call my boyfriend Matt, for anonymity purposes. I confirmed. Eddie became genuinely interested in my relationship with Matt. Those questions started out innocently, as well, before becoming much less so. He asked how long we’d been together, if Matt went to the same school as I did – and then, boom – there was the question of whether Matt and I had ‘fucked’ yet. In those words. I could feel my face turn beet-red. I cannot believe, looking back, how much SHAME that question made me feel. Not because it was overly inappropriate for a pretty much stranger to ask me this, but because the truth was, I was a virgin. I’d never experienced sex. Matt was a virgin, too. Like me, he hailed from a strictly Catholic family, and pre-marital sex being forbidden and sinful was something his parents instilled into Matt and his siblings. My family was of the same belief, but this was never something impressed on at home. My sisters were barely 10 and 7; and my mother hadn’t had this ‘talk’ with me, yet. Perhaps she knew, she herself hadn’t been married when she’d first had sex – maybe this was one thing she didn’t want to be hypocritical on. Matt was a typical 17-year-old boy with raging hormones and we’d only gotten as far as kissing, roaming hands over the clothes and occasionally down the pants, but whenever it became dangerously close to becoming an ‘all the way’ situation, Matt would slam onto the brakes and it’d be over. Personally, I was ready to experience it all – and to lose my virginity to him – but respected that he was not yet ready for that step. We’d talked about marriage and how our wedding night would be absolutely amazing – but that, like many other things, was just a dream. An illusion. And it would never become a reality. When I didn’t answer Eddie’s question, he proceeded with, “Do you like it when he fucks you? What’s your favorite position?” There were other questions, too, and I could feel my face flush even more with each one. I felt increasingly embarrassed, and I HATED the fact it was because here was this handsome, likely experienced twenty-five year old man asking me about sexual encounters that I didn’t have. What the hell would he think of me if I were to tell him that the closest I’d had to sex was Matt’s hand down the front of my underwear for all of 0.4 seconds before he’d put the kibosh on the whole thing? It didn’t occur to me, not at 17, that there was more cause for alarm to be derived from that line of questioning, especially by someone that much older than I. Instead of scrambling for an answer to a question I didn’t wish to entertain, I asked Eddie if he could please try my friend’s number again. He picked up the phone again and asked me to repeat the number. I gave it to him, but this time, watched his fingers carefully. Back then, there was no need to dial the area code first, and I saw him dial SIX numbers, instead of the standard seven-digit telephone number. His finger did not fully press down on the number 4. He skipped right over it and went to number 8. I saw it with my own eyes. My heart jumped into my throat as realization sank in – he’d been lying to me. Playing me. This whole time, he’d been manipulating the situation. If the mental danger flags weren’t waving before, they were, now. My heart sank when he hung up the receiver again, turned to me and said, “it’s still busy,” thus confirming my suspicions that I might be in trouble. I suppose for a split second, I hoped he’d realize he didn’t fully press the number 4 and try redialing – but he did not. He’d already hung up the phone, and was again focused on me, probably expecting I’d answer his question now that we had more ‘waiting’ time. My heart began racing. The panic was setting in. If we had the option to ‘press pause’ during significant moments in our lifetimes, so that we could re-evaluate and to give more thought on how to proceed, this would have been my first pause of the night. Maybe I’d have answered his questions – if I’d known what would alternatively happen, perhaps I’d have been better off answering and buying time by doing so. Maybe someone would have knocked on the door. Maybe this, maybe that… I’m not even sure how I managed to croak a weak, ‘thanks for trying,’ as I stood up and moved for the door. I’d just managed to reach for the knob when it all went into motion. First, I felt his hand firmly clasp around my arm, just above my elbow. Then, before I could scream, I felt myself being flung. My body quickly hurled toward the bed that we’d just been sitting on, and then bounced off. I landed hard onto my back, hitting the back of my head on the floor. It took a moment to process what had just happened, plus I’d had the wind knocked out of me. I couldn’t move quickly enough. By the time the stun had worn off and I’d managed to pull myself into a sitting position with my back against the side of the bed, he was standing above me with his pants and zipper open. Still, I remained in that place in-between shock and paralysis. I’d always been taught there was a cause and an effect to everything. All I could think at the moment was, what I’d possibly done to make him transform from the man who was going to help me, into this angry, violent monster that I now needed help getting away from. Was this a punishment for finding someone other than Matt attractive? Was that considered to be cheating and this was the price I’d pay? Was it a consequence for having lied to my father and told him I was working on a school project that night? I MUST have done something wrong! Everything was seemingly in slow-motion from this point on. One of his hands was now behind my neck, and from there, he reached up and clenched a fistful of my hair in between his fingers, pulling backwards. His other hand was on his now-exposed penis. I’d never seen one up close before. I’d FELT Matt’s, even touched it once. I’d seen photos. I’d seen the ‘adult section’ at the video store (when they still had them, back in the day before digital streaming was a thing!) and those video cassette jackets were NOT censored in the least bit. Although I had very little sexual experience, I somehow knew what he wanted me to do, and again, panic took over. I pressed my lips together as tightly as I could, trying to shake my head every time he moved himself closer. With each time I moved, his grip onto my hair tightened. Eventually, he roughly yanked again, forcing open my mouth when I gasped in pain. He wasted no time and maintained his hold onto my hair as he forced his organ into my mouth. Every time I tried to move my head in desperate attempts to evade him, he’d jerk me into position again. I began to gag as he violated my mouth and throat, and in the process, felt my teeth eventually sink into the shaft of his penis. I WISH I could say this was done on purpose, but it was completely, 100% an accident. Regardless, he released my hair, quickly withdrew, and angrily struck me in the mouth, knocking me back onto the floor. I immediately tasted blood in my mouth, as my lower lip was punctured on the inside by a tooth when he’d hit me. I hadn’t noticed the tears until that moment. Maybe they’d started forming when I was gagging. Maybe fear had caused them. Maybe it was the pain – in my back, my throbbing head, my mouth, my throat. Either way, the tears were now rolling down my face and I could no longer hold them back. It was also the moment I chose to plead with him, as hysterical as I was becoming. When a normal hearing person with normal speech is upset, they sometimes become difficult to understand. When a DEAF person with ‘different’ speech becomes hysterical, all hopes of being clear and understood are pretty much out the window. I’m not even sure what I said, as I was in no condition to choose or plan out my words. But I know I begged him to stop, I pleaded with him to let me go. It’s likely I said more, but my thoughts were racing and I had no idea what matched what was coming out of my mouth at the moment, and what didn’t. I stayed on the floor as I sobbed and spoke to him. I was terrified that getting up would mean he’d hurt me more or strike me again. He stood over me, holding himself in one hand, rubbing where I’d bitten him. When he was satisfied that I’d not permanently damaged his penis, he smirked, got down onto his knees, and lowered himself on top of me, straddling me just above my waist. I could not move, for his knees were pinning my arms to my sides. I continued to shake in fear, to cry, to beg, to appeal to any part of him that was kind. I know now that there was no part of him where such kindness existed, especially when he brought his face close to mine and began to mimic my sobs. He spoke with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, to emphasize on what I probably looked (and sounded) like to him. To clearly state to me that he saw me as a special-needs person who somehow deserved to suffer simply because they were different. There was no doubt in my mind then, that he’d taken pleasure in hurting others before me, or even after me. Although I somehow came to this conclusion at this moment, I’d not revisit this particular thought until many years later. I shut down. I stopped begging. Just so he’d stop mocking. He did. He kept on speaking to me, though. I didn’t catch all of it. But I was called some very nasty names, names that fully supported my theory that he viewed me as completely helpless. I cried silently. Eventually, he began to lower himself, slowly releasing my arms in the process. I waited until they were free, and then attempted to push him off of me. My fighting seemed to excite him even more. In one swift movement, he lifted himself off of me and roughly flipped me over to my stomach. In that split second while he was no longer on top of me, I attempted to crawl away, but now, he was in a position that better served to his advantage. He shoved me forward, and I stumbled and landed face-down onto the floor. And quickly, his lower body was between my legs, he was using his legs to hold mine apart, and the heaviness of his torso was keeping me from further being able to try to escape. I couldn’t see his face at this point. I saw only the bedroom door in front of me and called out for help. I screamed. My arms flailed; I used the palm of my hands to bang the floor, but these were likely camouflaged as stray musical beats and vibrations, as I could feel from underneath me, that the music was blasting loud enough to wake the dead. I kicked my legs against the floor, too, but that, too, was ineffective and went unnoticed to anyone who was not in the room with us. He managed to gain control of both of my arms and momentarily held them above my head. Then, using one hand, he continued to hold them there, by pinning my wrists to the floor. He brought his face close to mine, and using his other hand, began to roam. He first ran it over my breasts, (more so along the sides, whatever parts were accessible with all of his weight being on top of me) and then began to hike up the skirt I was wearing. Next, his fingers were inside of the elastic of my underwear, and I felt them being pushed to the side. “No.” I remember saying it. I did say it. There was also a ‘please’ in there, but he ignored me. I said it several times, each subsequent ‘no’ becoming quieter as I began to realize that I’d lost this battle. I was trapped. He replaced his probing fingers with his penis, and again, there was a sharp, searing pain. It was like nothing I’d felt before. A combination of burning, friction and pressure. More of my tears rolled, but I went silent and limp. There were no more remaining ‘no’s;’ I saw no point in it, anymore. There was no desire to fight any further – hadn’t I been fighting all along, just to try and prevent this moment? A moment I never thought would happen to me – a moment I’d only heard about on the news or seen on television shows or movies. It was too late, now. He was inside of me. His grip on my wrists eventually loosened, as soon as he’d realized that I was defeated and resigned. And I was. I let my cheek rest on the cold, hard floor, feeling right away my tears transfer onto the wood below. While he moved my body with his, I stared at the screen saver, that was still bouncing, still morphing. I counted the beats that I could feel beneath my body. I noted the time on the clock and saw that I’d only been in this bedroom for twenty minutes. Twenty minutes. That’s all it took. I could tell that I was in a house that was cleaned regularly – with my face rested against the floor, I could smell the unmistakable scent of Pine-Sol. This would become yet another trigger – the Pine-Sol. I paid attention to everything except what was happening to me. I stared only at the things I’d chosen to focus on, even when he brought his face close to mine and told me how much I liked it. I’d caught that through the corner of my eye and wanted to scream back, no, I didn’t like it. But I feared that I’d receive the worst possible response to anything I could do or say, so I held my tongue. He’d added some other choice words in there, too. Even when he licked my face, even when he would become more rough in hopes of soliciting a reaction or even a cry from me. Even when the necklace he wore (it was a thick chain) hit me in the face with every thrust. Before tonight, I’d not know what dissociation was – but sure as shit, I did it that night. I felt my eyes glaze over as I left my body, and I encased myself within my surroundings, the music, the vibrations, the computer, the barbells on the floor, the flashing colon between the hour and minutes on the digital clock. On ANYTHING except what was happening to my body at the moment. For the moment, I only existed outside of the body I no longer would recognize as my own. I also remember thinking momentarily, what if these were the last things I’d see? What if this was it for me? What if he planned to kill me when he was finished? Would I ever see my family again? Would I ever turn 18? I didn’t want this stupid screen-saver to be the last thing I saw, my last memory. I remember letting my eyes slowly close as I scrambled for thoughts of good times, the smiling faces of the people I loved. It provided a measure of comfort during a time where my life was uncertain, although in a miniscule way. He eventually slowed, stopped, and withdrew. I opened my eyes only when I felt his weight shift from my body. Still, I didn’t dare move. Moving had always gotten me into more trouble. Instead, I remained stationary on the floor, even after he’d gotten up. I assume he took a moment to zip up his pants, because I only watched his feet. I didn’t want to see his face again. It was a passing thought that if we’d made eye contact, he’d speak to me. He likely had more horrible things to say. I didn’t want to be put in a position where I’d have to respond, so I avoided looking above his feet – which was easy, being on the floor. They eventually moved for the door, which was perhaps six feet away from where I lay. I saw it open, then close again. I was now alone in this bedroom – once a symbol of hope, and now a museum of unpleasant memories. Everything hurt. My head was throbbing. My stomach was in knots and was churning. My heart was racing. And down there, there was burning. I could tell I was bleeding. I could feel it. Still, I stayed on the floor and continued to stare at the same few things I’d stared at before. First the computer, then the barbells, then the clock…back to the computer for a few seconds, over to the barbells…. Oh, God, what if he came back? What if he wasn’t finished? The thought that he might not be finished was enough for more tears to fall before I began to slowly shift my thoughts over to how I was going to get out of this place. More than anything, I wanted to go home. I wanted to be in my own bed. I wanted my DAD. I don’t know that I wanted him to know what had just happened – I was still undecided on whether he would be mad at me or he’d criticize me for lying to him. Never once did I consider he would tell me it wasn’t my fault, because all I could think of at the moment was how much it was. I think, more so, I wanted to see my father’s face. I wanted to crawl into his lap like I used to when I was five, and watch a Mets game with him. I wanted to see him cheer when one of the Mets got a hit. I wanted to see him grumble when the relief pitcher turned out to be a bad idea. I knew though, most of all, I wanted to be anywhere but here. I moved my arms for the first time in several moments and using them for support, picked my head and upper torso up slightly to check the door. Eddie had locked it behind him, the lock was in its vertical position, same as it had been when he was in the room with me. Whether that was a plot to buy time so that he could make a clean getaway was only a consideration for a moment – I’d certainly been laying there long enough and was more concerned with how I was going to be leaving. If anyone were going to help me, to rescue me, they’d have done so already. No one even knew I was there. I could feel that the music was still blaring downstairs. Everyone was still having the time of their lives, while mine had just been hanging by a frayed thread – or at least that’s how it felt. The pain in my stomach had turned into complete nausea. Remembering there was a small bathroom behind me, I hurriedly scurried toward it and made a beeline for the toilet. I collapsed next to it, bent my neck over the side, and threw up. It was mostly liquid and whatever of my dinner (several hours earlier) wasn’t digested. When the contents of my stomach had been emptied and I was no longer heaving, I looked down. My skirt was still hiked up, and there were blood smears on my legs, mostly in my inner thigh area. My underwear was still on, as when he was finished with me, it had snapped back into place. I could feel they were wet, likely with blood. I sat there for several minutes longer. At least, it FELT like several minutes. In reality, it probably was not very long at all – but still. NOTHING made me feel dirtier than what was on my legs, what was in my underwear, what was probably still on the floor where I’d been lying. Again, I felt my heart begin to pound. Everything felt wrong. I felt as if I didn’t belong. As if I were intruding. There was not only the mess left on me, there was also the mess I’d made in a complete stranger’s bedroom. Completely disregarding the fact that a very serious crime had been committed here, I immediately felt the need to clean it, wipe it away. Erase myself from having ever been in that room. The words played over and over in my head, this is entirely my fault, I lied to my parents, I knew there was going to be drinking at this party, yet I came…I willingly walked into this room with a guy that I felt attracted to, although only momentarily. Maybe deep down, I’d wanted this, maybe I’d considered, even if only for a few seconds, that I was ready for a sexual experience – being Matt’s girlfriend was not a bad thing, but it was indeed frustrating at times, not being able to explore what sex was. Maybe I’d realized that, even if it were only for a very brief moment. I was a horrible person. That HAD to be it. I stood for the first time since I’d been thrown down. My legs shook as the skirt, that had been hiked up, finally dropped back down. I felt weak and used the sink to steady myself. I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror hanging above the sink and saw that there were also blood smears on my left cheek, and around my mouth area, from the split lip. It was no longer bleeding, but had certainly puffed up. That was first. I turned on the water and washed my face thoroughly. I washed away the blood, the tears, the snot. His saliva. I cupped my hand underneath the faucet and rinsed my mouth out, wanting him out of there, too. When I finally understood that no amount of rinsing could remove those feelings of shame and disgust, I stopped. Almost as if some cosmic force was trying to let me know what my next step was - because I sure as shit couldn’t think straight - I felt a gush. Almost like a period gush, but deep down, I knew it wasn’t from that. Even periods, with the added cramping, did not hurt as much as I hurt at that moment. I hiked my skirt up again, pulled my panties down and quickly sat on the toilet. Once I was seated, I lifted my ankles out of the leg openings and picked my underwear up. I wasn’t ready to look at them, yet, so I held them in my trembling hand while I sat silently for a few minutes. I knew that to look would confirm whatever pain I was feeling. The pain was in the same area I’d cramp in when I did have my period. Just far worse than any I’d ever had in my life. I shook more as I became overwhelmed with my first flashback – if you could call it that, given it’d happened just minutes earlier. He’d repeatedly torn into me, paying no mind to the pain he was causing me with each angry push. Somehow that thought turned into, ‘maybe if I’d asked him to stop, he would have?’ The adult me now knows that he absolutely would not have shown me any mercy, but the 17-year-old version of me couldn’t see past that fact that she’d stopped pleading with him, thus she’d allowed him to do what he’d done. Stopping the fight was the equivalent of giving in, and to do so was giving consent. I’d soon mustered enough courage to look at the garment I held in my hand. The back and sides were clean, but as I’d suspected, there was blood in the crotch area. There was absolutely no way that I was putting these back on. There was a small trash can in a corner across from where the toilet was positioned. I found the cardboard core of an empty roll of toilet paper, and using my finger, pushed my soiled underwear into the open space in the center. I then plugged both ends with small pieces of tissue to keep the panties hidden, and tucked the roll back toward the bottom of the trash barrel. I was sure there was also some blood in the toilet, something I’d confirm during the next stage of my clean-up. Dirty. I felt SO dirty. I reached over to the sink next to me, turned the water back on and dampened wad after wad of toilet paper and cleaned myself up as best as I could before flushing my ‘sins’ away forever. When I was as satisfied as I could be with my cleaning, I stood, grabbed another handful of toilet paper and wet it. I exited the bathroom and walked over to the spot where I’d been raped. There were some droplets and smears of blood on the floor. Not wanting to see them anymore, wanting them gone along with the evidence I’d just cleaned off of myself, I immediately took the wet wad of toilet paper to the floor, wiping furiously at each spot and smear, until I was convinced that there were no further traces of me and that nobody would ever know what happened here. When finished, I returned to the bathroom to flush the bloody wad of toilet paper. I then ensured there was no remaining traces of my blood on the toilet seat, in the toilet bowl, in the trash, on the floor or the sink, before leaving the bathroom. I realized then that I had nothing on underneath my skirt. Almost immediately, I felt exposed and overly vulnerable. I needed something to wear, something to protect what was right now, the one part of my body I wanted hidden by several layers of clothing. Inpenetrable steel would have been a lovely, although unrealistic alternative, but I needed something there before I could safely re-introduce myself to the world beyond these four walls. Realizing again that I was in a bedroom, I made my way over to a dresser and opened the top drawer, where I found a pair of boxer shorts. They were faded and looked old and unlikely to be missed, so I took them and slipped into them. I did feel badly about doing that, too – stealing was added to the mental list of things I’d done wrong that night. I made one final trip to the bathroom where I grabbed another large wad of toilet paper, and stuffed it into the boxer shorts, between my legs, with the intention of it acting as a makeshift maxi pad. I stood in the middle of the room for what seemed like an eternity. I stared at the door, mostly. What if he was still here? What if he was standing right outside? What if he was waiting for me? Would I even see that ‘acquaintance’ of mine? It’s awfully hard to put into words the impasse I was at during this particular moment. I no longer wanted to be in this room, but what was out there was proving to be just as threatening and terrifying. What if I was in fact, safer in here? I‘m not sure what drove me. Perhaps it as the feeling of suffocation that was starting to set in. Maybe another part of me took over – a part of me that knew that I’d likely be standing in that room for several more hours if I didn’t move now. I felt my fingers turn the lock, and then my hand wrap around the cool-to-the-touch silver knob. I then was greeted with the heavy smell of pot once I’d let myself out into the hallway. There were other people in the hallway, there was a lot of smoke, there was the same loud music playing and the place was jumping. There had been no lapse in their world – only mine. I knew from memory that the front door was only a few feet from the bottom of the stairs and that in just moments, I’d be out of this house. I descended the stairs in a daze, refusing to look in any direction other than straight ahead. I think, deep down, I told myself that if I continued to look straight ahead, I would be less likely to find him, less likely to see his smirk, his amused smile. As soon as I stepped out the front door, I was met with a cool, relieving breeze. I am unsure of which was more relieving – the fresh air, or finally being out of that house where the smell of pot was overwhelming. I walked as quickly as my shaky legs would allow me to – I took step after step, knowing each carried me further away from the nightmare I’d just endured. I will admit that I’d hoped that the further I became from that house, the less hold it would have over me. My plan for the moment was to go home and forget about it. All of it. I’d not tell anybody. Not my Dad. Not my Mom. Not Matt…especially not Matt! Once I got to it, I’d crawl into bed and sleep. For days, if I needed to. Until I felt better, then I’d move on with my life as if nothing had happened. I know that plan is laughable, but for the moment, it was pure gold. But I had to get home, first. I thought as I walked. How the fuck was I going to get home? My car was at that stupid bit*h’s house! Still, I kept walking. If only I could remember where she lived and what streets she took to get us to the party? Maybe I could walk there? But my keys were inside her house. My purse, too. My wallet. My book bag. Everything. It was either inside her house or in my car. EVEN if I could remember where she lived and was able to get myself there by foot, I didn’t want to have to knock on her door. What if she’d gotten home already? Would I be able to refrain from punching her in the face when she answered the door? What if her mother answered the door? No. That wouldn’t work… Kept walking, still. I could feel that there was more bleeding, but still needed to be further away. I needed more distance to be put between myself and that horrible place. I kept looking behind me, to make sure he wasn’t there. What if he’d seen me leave and was following me? I needed to be states away. My legs couldn’t get me that far, and that quickly. No fucking way was I going back to that house or stopping to knock on someone’s door. That was completely out of the question. I needed to move forward, not backwards, and to ask another stranger for help was, to me, moving backwards. I walked for several minutes more, pondering my options. There weren’t many. And the burning between my legs was back and intensifying with each additional step I took. I could tell the tissues I had stuffed into the boxers were already becoming saturated. I needed a bathroom so that I could clean myself again. I’d arrived at a busy street. It was late at night, so traffic was light, but there were still cars passing by. Across the street, there sat a small diner. It was one of those storefront diners, you could see through the front windows that there were booths lined up along the length of the window, there was a counter. And there was likely a bathroom, too, as any establishment that served food must also have a bathroom… My first thought when walking in was that they’d likely not allow me to use their bathroom if I wasn’t a paying customer. As it was pretty late in the evening, there was only one customer there - an elderly man sitting in one of the booths farthest away from the front door, his companionship being a lone cup of coffee and a newspaper. A plump, kindly-looking waitress stood behind the counter and greeted me with a smile. I leaned against the counter, exhausted, and asked her for a glass of water (as I was of the impression that you couldn’t use the bathroom unless you were a customer, and although I didn’t have any money on me, I NEEDED the bathroom and needed to, at least, LOOK like a paying customer!) and then after a pause, if I could use the ladies’ room. Without hesitation, she pointed in the direction of the bathroom. It was just past where the old man was sitting, and he briefly looked up from his newspaper as I walked past him and disappeared into the rest room. There was more blood, and several more flushes. I sat for a little bit longer, as my legs were weary and sore – I’d walked as fast as they were capable of carrying me. It hit me that I was still unsure of how I’d be getting home. It was looking more and more like I’d have to call my father – or have someone call him FOR me. The lady at the counter worked at the diner. Name tag and all. (What was it? Susan? I want to say it was Susan…) Could I trust her to make a call to my father? I probably could trust a business employee but I’d have to build up the NERVE to ask, first. I needed to think some more. When I’d replaced the wad of toilet paper, I stood and walked back over to the counter, where Susan was patiently waiting. Right away, she produced a glass of water and a menu, I guess, just in case I WAS a paying customer. In hindsight, she probably wouldn’t have cared if I was or wasn’t – she was soft, kind-looking and I believe, deep down, she knew something was wrong. She was careful not to touch me when she handed me the water and the menu. Perhaps it was the body language that spoke for me – back OFF. Or was it something else? My hands had been shaking on and off for the last hour – perhaps they were still unsteady? Maybe my lip was swollen? Had it begun to bleed again? I hadn’t looked in the mirror on my way out of the bathroom…what if there was blood on my skirt? I’d not seen any when I cleaned up at the house, but what if there was some there, now? I remember gently touching my lip with a finger and running my tongue along the inside of my mouth to check. I wrapped both of my hands around the tall glass of water, needing them to be still. The concern of there being blood on my skirt was the biggest at the moment, especially now that I was sitting down. What if I’d bled through? Susan waited until I’d taken a sip of water through the straw before leaning in. I felt myself tense up but didn’t move. I was terrified of people right now. Even the old man, probably harmless, sitting in the booth on the way to the bathroom. Even he scared me. I didn’t want to be seen; I didn’t want to be smiled at. I didn’t want to exist. Eye contact was a dangerous thought – I felt as if ONE look at my eyes would reveal everything that had happened, every shameful detail - and I wanted to NOT be in the spotlight. I wanted to be invisible – or at least completely unseen for the time being. Still, I knew that if it was likely I’d have to suck it up and ask for help for the second time that night, I’d better at least LOOK at her. Slowly, I raised my eyes and met the lips of the waitress, who spoke softly, almost in a whisper. “There is a cab on his way here,” She said, “the driver is a relative of mine and he’s trustworthy.” I’m not sure how I managed, but I thanked her. She said, ‘you’re welcome,’ and, I suspect that in addition to her good timing, she also had a touch of ESP, because she must have sensed that I needed a moment. She left me to sit in silence and walked over to the old man with a coffee carafe. My hands were getting cold from being wrapped around the glass, so I gently pushed my drink over to the side and picked up the menu. I knew I wasn’t planning on getting anything to eat, but there was still that desire to ‘blend in.’ To look as if I belonged, as if I was ‘fine.’ To put SOMETHING into my hands. It was either the menu or the nearby salt and pepper shakers. I knew I wasn’t ‘fine’ or even okay, and that I wouldn’t be for a while. Still, I held the menu in my hands, feeling them begin to tremble again. I looked only at the calligraphic writing for another indeterminate amount of time. I don’t even think I remembered how to read at the moment – the words stared back at me and would blur every few seconds. My head was pounding, and I felt sick to my stomach. Yet, the kind words of Susan the waitress, replayed in my mind. A cab…on the way. She’d called a cab. I didn’t have to ask her to – she’d done it on her own. She’d saved me the trouble of having to muster up enough courage to admit that I needed help. I wanted to cry, this was one of the first things to have gone right that night! When I felt a breeze from the front door being opened, I looked up only briefly to see a man walk in. He had on a Yankees hat, jeans, and a black leather jacket. He stood at the opposite end of the counter for a moment, as one would if they were waiting to be served. Susan, who had disappeared into the kitchen a few moments earlier, re-emerged with a tray of desserts to put out on display in one of the see-through counters that was noticeably low on muffins and cakes and other desserts that I normally would have found appetizing. There was a brief exchange between Susan and the man, following a quick kiss hello. They spoke softly while Susan grabbed the nearby carafe and poured him a coffee ‘to go.’ He then took his coffee and left the diner. I watched as Susan opened the dessert display case from her side of the counter and she put the tray onto one of the shelves. She then began to make her way over to me. Again, I tensed up and my heart began to race. I felt safe for the moment, but at the same time, still wary of impending danger. I wouldn’t be completely safe until this night was over and I was in my room, in my Dad’s house, in clean pajamas, with my own pillow and blanket. “My brother-in-law is here. His car is right out front. He will take you wherever you want to go. All you need to do is give him an address.” I turned my head and looked out the diner’s front window. The man with the Yankee hat was sitting in the drivers’ seat of a black sedan, with the name and number of a local cab company printed on the side. The lights were on in the car as well as the headlights. He was sipping from the coffee cup Susan had given him. I wasn’t sure about this. Susan had indeed been helpful and had taken the initiative to call the cab for me, but she’d not asked me what I wanted her to do. Perhaps I’d not have been able to verbalize, nor would I have been too comfortable having her explain to my father that I needed a ride home and why. Maybe the cab would have ended up being something I’d asked for. I just hadn’t had the time to entertain the idea of getting into another stranger’s car – even if it meant that it would be bringing me to safety. How was I to know, though? What if this guy was a crazy, too? But then again, if I didn’t get into the cab, how WAS I getting home? How much longer would it be before I would figure out what the plan was? I was aching badly in places I didn’t even know existed, my head was continuing to pound, and my legs felt rubbery and sore. It was an opportunity I had to take. I stood, slowly, knowing that it was my best option. I thanked Susan again and made for the front door. “Take care,” was what she said. That was the last I saw of Susan, at least physically. I’d see her several more times in memories of that night and of the difference she’d made. I’d regret never having the nerve to go back to that diner to see if it was even still standing and of course, if she was still working there, so that I could say the words to her that I couldn’t say 23 years ago. I got into the back seat of Susan’s brother-in-law’s cab. He put his coffee into the cup holder in between his seats, turned his head and asked, ‘where to, honey?’ Where to? To the house of my acquaintance to pick up my car? I did have her address confined to memory from when I’d MapQuested it earlier. Yes, back then, GPS’s didn’t exist, at least, I don’t think so. So MapQuest or written directions were the way to go. But could I actually drive my car, feeling the way I did? Or was I more likely to die in a fiery crash on the Sunrise Highway because everything was blurring on me? To the hospital? The thought of painkillers was a good one. There HAD to be something they could give me that would numb my entire body. But, wouldn’t they have to call my parents? I wasn’t 18 yet. I didn’t have any insurance or even any ID on me. They’d likely call the cops. And then THEY would call my parents. And then my parents would know. And, so would Matt, eventually. My mother never could keep her mouth shut, so naturally, that would mean the whole world would know, after what had happened was broadcast on the six o’clock news. Then my parents would be SURELY be angry with me… The driver was patient. He waited quietly for me to mentally scroll through my choices of places he could bring me, and only pulled out of the diner’s parking lot as soon as I supplied him with the instructions, “Exit 43 off the Sunrise. I’ll direct you from there.” I was going home. I’d figure out the car later. After I’d showered, slept, and the pain had subsided. When I was able to form a conscious thought. When every damn part of my body wasn’t shaking or throbbing or otherwise uncomfortable. The ride lasted about thirty minutes – and that’s only because it was late and there was very little traffic on the road. After he had taken the exit and I’d told him which turns to take, we arrived at my Dad’s house. All of the lights were off. My Dad had likely gone to sleep hours earlier. I realized then that I didn’t even have my house key. I knew though, that my father kept a spare key underneath a large rock on the side of the house – it wasn’t a decorative rock, just one of those stray rocks that nobody knew served an additional purpose than to just exist. I knew my father kept a pouch of grocery money in one of the drawers in the kitchen – I hoped there was enough in there to give the driver. As soon as we were in the driveway, I told him to wait while I went in to get him some money. “No,” he said to me. “Susan already took care of it. You just get yourself inside, okay, honey?” I tried to ignore the ‘honey’ – I knew he wasn’t being fresh or inappropriate. He was genuinely a gentleman – and had gotten me home, he hadn’t tried to engage me in conversation, he’d driven responsibly. For all of that, I was eternally grateful. I just didn’t like the ‘honey.’ Especially not tonight. I shook it off, though, for I was finally home now – and nothing mattered more than that. “Are you sure?” “Go on.” I thanked him, (and mentally thanked Susan, again) and got out of the car. As soon as he’d driven away, I made my way over to the side of the house, where I prayed no one had moved the concealed key. I REALLY didn’t want to knock on the door and alert my father to anything – I just wanted to quietly go inside and get OUT of these clothes…clothes that usually were comfortable and that I actually liked – now were tainted. I never wanted to see that skirt again. I wanted the boxer shorts I’d been wearing wadded up and discarded. I wanted the smell of weed off of my shirt, out of my hair, out of my nostrils, where all of the unpleasant smells of that night continued to linger. I located the key despite it being dark outside, thanking God that it hadn’t been disturbed, and let myself into my father’s house. I disabled the security system, and quietly made my way into my room, where I wasted NO time. I grabbed clothes from my dresser drawers and made a beeline for the bathroom one door down. Finally. Fucking FINALLY. I stripped as soon as I’d locked myself into the bathroom and stepped into the shower, switching on the faucet. I don’t know how long I was standing there – it could very easily have been forty-five minutes before the water went from hot to cold. Still, I stood there for yet another period in which time seemed endless, letting the stream of water wash away any residual traces of blood – and him- that had dried up in between my inner thighs and on my legs. I washed myself thoroughly with a soapy, even though it burned to do so. The bleeding had slowed significantly by now, but I still avoided looking at the blood-streaked water before it disappeared down the drain, along with any evidence that might have remained. I know what you’re all likely thinking at this point. No, I thought nothing about reporting what had happened. By now, I’d decided that I was NOT going that route. The shame was far too great, and I truly felt at this point, that the events of the last few hours had been entirely my fault. My parents would tell me the same thing. They’d call the cops. The cops would ask me about him and really, what would I say? I didn’t know anything about him, just that his name was Eddie. I didn’t know his last name or where he lived. They’d never find him. And I didn’t want to get into it. I wanted to forget it. ALL of it. I wanted it buried. The thought of people knowing about this – TERRIFIED me. What would they think if me? I suppose you could call me chicken – but my excuse stands – being seventeen and still ‘a kid’ DEFINITELY hinders sensible thinking. That shower was also the first time I cried since it had happened. I know I’d cried during, but in between Eddie’s leaving me and my arrival home, it had been unsafe to cry, to show weakness and vulnerability. Look at where it had gotten me in the first place, after all. I’m not sure what that night taught me as far as showing emotion, but to this day, I still have trouble crying in front of others – most particularly when talking about this one event. As I finally felt safe and alone and that the spotlight had been removed for the time being, I stood there in the shower, bawling, and at one point, sank to the floor of the tub and sobbed silently and until my tears had run out. It would be the most I’d cry about this for several years. When the water had become too cold to bear, I got out, dried off, put my pajamas on and gathered all of the clothes I’d been wearing that night. Into a plastic bag they went, until the bag was eventually discarded days later. After ‘squaring away’ those clothes, I’d crawled into my bed, and that was where I’d spend most of the weekend. I didn’t want to get up, or to move. It took a little time for me to fall asleep and it was almost dawn when I’d finally succumbed to it. My father had poked his head into my room a few hours later, and had asked why I was home – where was my car? He hadn’t expected me home until later that day. I told him that I’d gotten sick with a stomach flu and that my classmate had driven me home – I’d have to pick my car up when I was feeling better. He didn’t ask any more questions – and while part of me was disappointed that my own father hadn’t even been able to pick up on the fact that something was wrong, another part of me was glad. Maybe, just maybe I could keep this secret. It was, after all, mine, and mine only to hold, to carry, to hide whenever necessary. This installment is dedicated to the woman who just wanted to fit in. The woman who wanted to have a good time. The woman who wanted to try new things. The woman who was put in a bad position by stretching the truth. The woman who found him attractive at first. The woman who allowed herself to trust a stranger, a friend, a family member. The woman who stopped fighting because she couldn’t anymore. The woman who was rendered defenseless and powerless. The woman who was too afraid to report it to the authorities. The woman who did what she needed in order to survive. The woman who is to blame for none of it. - Capulet
  3. Also posted in Share Your Story: Installment One: The Formative Years I was born on a snowy winter morning in 1978. Originally, I wasn’t planning to reveal my age – but felt there was some importance in divulging the time frame. I DO believe that there is FAR more awareness now than there was back then. Maybe, just maybe things would have turned out differently. Maybe it would have set off an entirely different chain of events. Maybe I wouldn’t be writing this, now. As life is full of too many maybes and not enough definites, I’ve decided to chuck the what-ifs into the (digital) trash where they belong, because regardless of what the maybes are, they’ll never be proven and we cannot dwell on them. My mother was a schoolteacher. She’d been teaching kindergarten up until shortly before giving birth and my father worked in insurance. They married young. I’d learn years later that I was not their first child – before they married, my mother, at seventeen, had become pregnant with my brother – that pregnancy was terminated, likely for a number of reasons but two main ones stand out – one – they were young and not yet engaged – and two – although my mother claimed she was ambiguous and would have birthed my brother, my father was of the mindset that they weren’t ready to have a child, yet. So, they’d made the decision to terminate, and didn’t have me until eight years later and after they’d already been married for seven of them. When I was six months old, my parents noticed that I was not responding to loud noises or to my name being called. I think an investigation was sparked when my father set off the smoke/fire alarm, alerting all tenants of the apartment building we lived in, (I must say that his cooking has not improved) and I slept through it all. There was enough concern that they brought me to have my hearing tested. The audiologist took out a cowbell and stood directly behind me and rang it. My parents could hear it. The people in the office next door likely heard it, too. Hell, the people outside probably could have heard it. I, however, did not. I remained stationary in my seat and unfazed. “Your daughter is deaf.” The diagnosis rattled my parents to their core. They thankfully didn’t waste time seeking out second or third opinions – they’d likely have gotten the same responses. They liked this particular audiologist, too, and felt comfortable with her and her advice to get me fitted with hearing aids as quickly as possible. “What happened?” They did ask her. I am the only one in my family history to have a hearing impairment, so they knew this was not genetic. After discussing any and all possibilities, the one theory that seemed most likely was my mother’s (while being pregnant) having come into contact with a student of hers that had come down with the measles. Another way that ‘back then’ was different from today – there wasn’t so much stress on the importance of vaccinations and kids were showing up to school with brewing illnesses and sharing them with their friends, or in my mother’s case, with their pregnant teachers. So, the reason that’s been put down in all of my medical charts is, ‘birth defect.’ It was also explained to my parents that I’d likely never speak, having never been able to ‘hear’ proper speech. It’s been suggested, although never confirmed, that I was born with a severe hearing loss and it had rapidly declined into a profound loss by the time of diagnosis. It was recommended that I be taught sign language as a primary language – which would have meant that both my parents, who combined, didn’t know a single word in sign language, would have to first learn it themselves in order to teach ME to communicate. The sign-language route wasn’t an option that my mother was willing to accept as a primary plan. It quickly became a secondary, back-up plan as she decided to quit her teaching job and to focus on taking care of her special-needs child. I’m unsure if it was due to her strong background and focus in education, or if it was a personal mission of hers that she undertook at this point, but early intervention was her mindset and quickly became her obsession. If speech training could not be implemented into my day-to-day life, then they’d revert back to Plan B. EVERYTHING was a lesson. A learning experience. I am partially glad that I have no memory of this, either. The way my mother tells it, every waking moment was spent teaching me. Every time she spoke to me, she’d place my tiny hand onto her throat so that I could feel the vibrations of her voice. She’d also say the names of things she’d pick up, and make sure I was looking at her when she did, so that I could see how they looked on her lips, and put the image together with the words. Cup. Ball. Book. Toy. The list goes on. And the colors….this is red, that’s blue…etc. There were flash cards, too…she’d cut out photos from magazines and make these herself. She would eventually be able to say a word and have me point to the picture. She didn’t do all of this, herself, though. She also took several trips into the city, sometimes as often as three times per week, where trained professionals would also work with me on speech and language development. Being at home was just a constant continuation of all of the work they did there. In addition to being my mother, she became my first and most important teacher. My father wasn’t as involved with all of this. I’m not sure if this was where they started having problems or disagreements, but they were divorced before I had any memory of him living with us or being a constant within my very early childhood. My mother was given sole custody. My father didn’t fight her. While I know he loved me very much, he was clearly happy with having her do most of the parenting and he’d take me on weekends and holidays. I was 2 when their divorce was final; Mom and I moved out of the apartment that my parents shared. My Dad would remain in the same place for the next decade. As she needed time to get onto her feet, she moved in with my grandmother for a little while. My grandmother owned a house that had been in the family since HER mother bought when SHE was a child. It was a brick, two-story place that had been converted into a two-family home when my mother was still a kid. Now it was the very early 80’s and my mother’s brother and his ‘friend’ (a male roommate/his best friend/possible lover?) lived in the upstairs apartment while my mother and I lived in the downstairs apartment with my grandmother. This was only meant to be a temporary arrangement, as my mother, following her divorce from my father, had returned back to work. As soon as my mother began to gain a steady income, (along with my father’s child support) we moved out of my grandmother’s house and into a small basement apartment just a few blocks away. My mother, until she eventually re-married, made sure to stay close to my grandmother – and also my uncle. You see, she needed help with getting me to my appointments into the city for continued speech therapy. I was not yet in school, so my uncle, who was not working at the time, was tasked with taking me back and forth via city subway. There was a train station literally behind my grandmother’s house and it was one train from there to the city, where my uncle would bring me for my appointments while my mother worked. On days I didn’t have appointments, he was my babysitter – and would watch me at my grandmother’s house until my mother got home. A pause here, to tell you a little bit about him. He was (I suppose I shouldn’t say ‘was’ as he’s still alive – but my grandmother is not) my grandmother’s eldest. My mother also had an older sister, who at the time was married with a couple kids, lived elsewhere (although not too far) and had her own issues at the time – so was unavailable to help out. My uncle had joined the seminary years before I was born. I’m unsure if doing so had to do with his sexual orientation – or guilt and confusion relating to it. Either way, he became a Roman Catholic priest – and still lived with his ‘friend,’ a man I knew for my entire life and adopted as a second uncle. From when I was born, he was there. I’d never known my uncle to be without his ‘friend.’ To this day, they are still living in that apartment, even though I think now, he’s moved downstairs and is occupying the space that used to be my grandmother’s. But, anyway – I rarely saw him in anything other than the black pants, black shirt, priest collar. He never confirmed that my second uncle was anything more than just his friend, and no one wanted to ask. We all just went along with it, not wanting to know what went on behind closed doors. None of that was our business. My uncle was the equivalent of the ‘housewife’ while my ‘bonus’ uncle worked a regular nine-to-five – so unless it was a weekend or Sunday dinner at my grandmother’s or a holiday or family gathering, I rarely saw him. While we lived within walking distance from my grandmother’s house, my uncle would walk over in the evenings to ‘say goodnight,’ and usually that consisted of him telling me a bedtime story and tucking me in. Usually it was the same corny story. He would put me in as the main character – he would also insert my cousins, (my aunt’s kids) but always make me the heroine. There was no doubt that I was his ‘favorite’ and he made sure to tell me often. I spent a LOT of time with him when I was between the ages three to five. When I started elementary school, the trips into the city had lessened from three times a week down to two, and they’d likely be after-school appointments. He would still take me to those, as my mother’s work schedule often consisted of after-school tutoring, to earn a little extra. All that being said, let it be known that I have no memories of ANY of this. I only remember all of the above as that’s how it was told to me. By the time I turned six, my mother had just re-married. My new stepfather was a decent guy and a hard worker. My first sister was ‘baking,’ my mother had become pregnant shortly after her wedding. My father had also remarried within months of my mother. I now had two ‘bonus’ parents aside from my biological parents – I still lived with my mother, though, and we’d moved into an apartment further away from my grandmother’s house – meaning my uncle could no longer walk the distance to ‘tuck me in’ at night anymore. I’m not sure how this came to be – it might have been suggested that I was struggling socially in school, but my mother eventually decided to put me into ‘play therapy.’ It was church sponsored and free – but being six, I didn’t care about the ‘therapy’ aspect of it all. All I cared about was the fact they had a Barbie Dream House in one of their playrooms, and I LOVED the idea of being able to go play with it for an hour. There were a WHOLE lot of toys to pick from…blocks, puppets, stuffed animals…but that Dream House was all that I’d go for. They had a range of Barbies that I could play with, too, which only made it all better. I remember a Dream House of my own being added to my Christmas list, but it never did show up under the tree. Damn that Santa Claus! That’s where my memories start. I remember nothing before going to play therapy. I, however, remember THIS particular afternoon at play therapy where I clenched a Ken doll in one hand and a Skipper doll in the other. This is where it gets fuzzy. I don’t remember what the dolls were actually doing. Perhaps I’m not allowed to remember. I DO, however, remember the lady waving her hand to get my attention, and then when I looked at her, asking me who the Ken doll was. What was his name? I could have said, ‘Ken.’ Even back then, I’m sure I was a smart-ass. I did know that was the name of Barbie’s boyfriend. But I didn’t. In this representation, he wasn’t Ken. Instead, I named my uncle. The lady told me I could play for a little while longer. She would be right back. I didn’t care that she left me alone in the playroom. Thinking back, I’m sure she was going to speak to my mother and properly ‘reporting’ what had just been said. At the time, though, nothing registered. I was oblivious and uncaring, as long as I had a few more minutes with the Dream House, I was golden… I never saw that woman or that playroom again. I think I was more disappointed that I never saw the Dream House again, either. Shortly after my last play therapy session, two women showed up at our apartment. They sat on either side of me on the couch. My mother was there, too, standing across from where we sat. I remember her telling the women that I was deaf and I needed for her there to interpret, in case I didn’t understand them. I remember vaguely one woman beginning to speak slowly. She started out with some simple questions. What was my name? How old was I? What was my favorite color? What was my favorite toy? When she was sure that I could understand her without my mother’s help, she put down the clipboard she had in her lap, and slightly opened her legs. “Do you know what this is?” She patted her own crotch. It was quick, a pat-pat when the word ‘this’ was said. I remember looking at this lady as if she were bat-shit crazy. Of course I knew what THAT was. I had one too. I knew the name, but I called it a ‘private part.’ I remember there being a brief dialogue between my mother and these two women. My mother was someone that there was NEVER any issue lip-reading. The person I had NO choice but to understand. She was suggesting to the women that she’d spoken to her brother and he’d disciplined me because I was being ‘fresh.’ He’d admitted to swatting my bottom. Additionally, maybe that was why I was confused, and THAT’s what he’d touched, instead of where Ken had touched Skipper. I assume that is why they asked me what (pat-pat) ‘this’ was. ‘This’ and my bottom are not in the same place. In hindsight, even at six, I knew the difference between that was in the front and what was in the back. Why would I deny this, though? My mother was the one person I knew I needed to obey. Whatever she said was the truth. One of the not-so-good things about her being my first-ever ‘teacher’ – I took every single thing she said seriously and as being the truth. She was right about everything. Whatever she knew, I was supposed to also know. And like most students try to do with their teachers – I was eager to supply the right answer and to make her proud. I wanted to please her, I wanted to be right and not wrong. So, when the women turned to me and asked if that was what happened, and that my uncle had spanked my bottom, I nodded. Yes. If Mom said that’s what happened, then that’s what happened. I DID remember him doing that, after all. Not details, but I DID remember being warned by my mother not to give my uncle a hard time on the subway. I was six, of COURSE I was going to get out of line a few times. The subway had poles in the aisles and I’d love spinning around them…he’d probably complained about that and said I’d misbehaved. I’d probably been swatted a couple times because I didn’t listen. It wasn’t something done regularly. I suddenly felt very afraid. Of what, I don’t know. Maybe it was of these strange women and them being here and asking weird questions. They’d seemed friendly when they arrived. Now, they were just intimidating, and I wanted them to leave. I’m not sure how much longer we were talking but to an anxious six-year-old, time drags and it’s hard not to get restless. “I made it up.” Yes. I said it. I said it so they would leave. Sure enough, shortly after, they gathered their papers and clipboards and left. My mother let them out and said nothing more of this. Ever. Not a single word. You’d think something this serious would be followed up on. It would be something that I’d need facts on. Something that would be too hard to ignore, but it’s something my mother had too little difficulty ‘forgetting about.’ I do think, though, my uncle was spooked, and if there was indeed something going on, it stopped here. I did always remember that meeting with those women and telling them I’d lied and that I’d entirely made up what Ken had done to Skipper was always in the back of my head, bottled and stored in a place that would remain undisturbed for the next a decade and a half. It perhaps stayed in the back of my mother’s mind, too, but unlike me, she’d never get around to re-opening this bottle. I’m not sure if the behaviors began before or after this meeting with those two women. I remember nothing from ‘before’ I started to believe that I was a liar, for having made up something so terrible about my uncle. And now, looking back at the behaviors I remember so clearly, I was having to believe that there really was something wrong with me, too. I remember beginning to take my own baths at the age of seven. My sister had been born shortly before I turned seven, and my mother was now often busy with an infant. So, every night, I would go into the bathroom with my bucket of bath toys and take a bath on my own. This next part is one of the hardest things for me to admit – but I will do so anyway, as I’ve promised not to hold back, not to kick certain details over to the side because they’re too shameful or embarrassing. It’s important. It’s another huge, significant, blinking question mark when it comes to the whys behind it. Another black void that I truly cannot shine a light on, to see what started it. But – at age seven is when the masturbation started. Water was how I did it, mostly with the shower head/spray. I don’t know if this means of masturbation was ‘discovered’ by accident or it was a previously introduced method, but it regardless became a routine. At the beginning of ‘bath time,’ I would turn on the shower head and let the water hit me ‘there’ until I couldn’t anymore. I had no idea what an orgasm was, but there was a point I needed to get to – a point where I could no longer spray in that spot, because it was throbbing too much. While a child knows nothing about masturbation – certainly not the proper term for it - she somehow knew that it was how to arrive at that ‘feeling’ at the end. To experience that feeling soon became a bath time obsession for me. While it was something I had grown used to doing, and I am ashamed to admit I enjoyed, too – I also knew, deep down, that it was wrong. There was something about it that didn’t feel right – and I ignored that nagging feeling. Instead, I hid this from not only my mother, but from everyone else in the household. It was my secret, something I never told anybody about. A few years in, my mother did eventually realize what I was doing when she walked into the bathroom and caught me in the process. She’d confirmed my fears – it was wrong, it was a sin and it was disgusting. And because I’d become so intent on doing it, I felt even more so that this meant that I was not normal, I was a bad person, I was a disgusting, vile human being. It was something she would tell me that I needed to confess to our parish priest (we were Catholic…I only say ‘were’ because I no longer follow the Catholic) before receiving Communion at Sunday mass. So, every week, I’d shamefully admit to the priest (the face-to-face confessional was how I had to do it) that I touched myself. I’d grow increasingly ashamed of it, and of myself, as I got older. An addendum to the whole ‘confessing my sins’ bit – I wasn’t thinking to add this as I was almost finished writing this installment when remembering this part. As my mother insisted on my going to confession before church, and her brother was a priest, she would sometimes have HIM listen to my confessions. There was a room in his apartment that he’d made a mini-chapel out of – he had an altar, his statues, the communion dish, the wine goblet, the incense thingy…there was a single pew where we would once in a while hear him say mass. Or it was where I’d sit next to him and avoid eye contact while I told him the same things I’d tell our parish priest. He would absolve me of my sins every time, and then give me my three Hail Marys or two Our Fathers to recite as penance. I never really thought about how messed up this was – not until much later. I can’t help but wonder, looking back, what HE was thinking when hearing me say these things? Another behavior that also began when I was very young was soiling myself. This, I cannot explain the reasoning behind. I would literally ‘hold it’ even if I needed to go to the bathroom – and usually would have soiled underwear at the end of the day. I’d taken to hiding them when I took them off, fearful that I’d be yelled at. My mother would indeed yell, but usually it would be when she either realized that there weren’t too many pairs of my underwear in the laundry or when she’d find however many pairs that I’d hidden when she ‘cleaned’ a certain place in my room. She also knew about my soiling – she’d shame me for that, too, telling me I smelled, and that nobody would want to be near me. Perhaps, deep down, I knew that. Either way, this, along with the masturbation, was likely one of the several reasons I met my first therapist when I was eight years old. Dr. M had her office in the basement level of a brownstone in downtown Brooklyn. She was a Jewish lady with an 80’s perm, glasses, and a fondness for saying ‘what do YOU think?’ whenever I asked her a question. Her office had a playroom, too, but alas, no Barbie Dream House. She did have wooden building blocks, plenty of paper, crayons and other crafting supplies. Most of the time, we’d converse while I drew pictures or built something out of the blocks. I don’t recall what we talked about, but I do remember wanting to know more about her. How old was she? What was HER favorite thing to eat? It would piss me off to no end when she would smile and ask what I thought. I’d tell her, “I dunno. That’s why I’m asking you.” I saw her for once per week, for one year. It became something I looked forward to – it was hard, at eight, to view Dr. M as a therapist or to wonder why I was seeing her. Mom would later say it was because I was having trouble at school and that I was imaginative. Hmm. Imaginative. Meaning, I guess, I was a liar, and that was just a nicer word for it. I think she also threw in “well, your being deaf was making it hard for you to make friends at school.” That doesn’t quite top the ‘imaginative’ reference, but it was also true that school SUCKED for me. Kids were cruel, I kept to myself mostly, and shied away from as much social activity as possible. Not that seeing Dr. M improved on that – school was a nightmare all through middle school – being deaf was simply what was wrong with me now, and what would be wrong with me for the rest of my life. While the other stuff that was wrong with me was a secret, this wasn’t one I could keep. There was constantly attention being drawn to my disability, and my classmates, not being mature enough to be able to see past it, would be merciless and consistent with their bullying. To me, Dr. M was a kindly lady who talked to me, who drew with me, who let me tell her stories. Perhaps those were imaginative, too? I honestly have to wonder if any of my ‘stories’ raised any red flags, because suddenly, one Saturday morning, I was prepared to go for my therapy session and my mother informed me that I’d not be seeing Dr. M anymore. “It’s too expensive,” my mother said. In hindsight, I cannot imagine that being the case, as my father, who has always been comfortable with money, was funding all of this. That’s basically his role in all of it. My mother would tell him what she needed – money, take me to this appointment, pick me up, drop me off. Dad never questioned anything or the cost of anything – he just did it. She said to jump, he’d ask how high. There was never any closure with Dr. M. My mother stuck to the story that her services were too expensive. I remember being disappointed – sad, almost, that I would no longer see my ‘friend,’ Dr. M, but almost as quickly as it became a routine, it became a thing of the past. Life went on after the discontinuation of therapy. My mother and stepfather eventually had another baby. Another sister. My father and his wife remained childless; Dad always insisting that his one daughter was enough for him. I was with Mom most of the time and spent every other weekend with my father. Family gatherings continued to be held, most of the time at my grandmother’s house. We did all of the holidays – Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, birthdays. My grandmother was a non-driver – as my uncle too, never got his driver’s license, either. So, we always went to her house, as to simplify things for my grandmother and uncle – and us, as if we wanted them elsewhere, someone would have to pick them up and then drive them back home. My grandmother, up until she became sick, would insist on our visits on Sunday. Without fail, we went there on Sundays for dinner – even if it wasn’t a holiday. She wanted her family together – it was what she loved more than anything. This, I’m realizing, was something she passed down to my mother – I am finding that this family closeness is what my mother wants, as well, but it is, unfortunately for her, not how it unfolded. Still, life went on as if what had happened when I was six – had never happened. My uncle was no longer my babysitter, but he remained a constant. He was present at all the holidays and birthday celebrations. He would, on occasion, take me to movies during visits to my grandmother’s house. He didn’t seem to begrudge me for what I do remember having gone down with the dolls, and like my mother, he said nothing about it and carried on as if it was nonexistent. I will never know what was said between brother and sister – and what the plan was between the two of them – perhaps because keeping the family together was of paramount importance to my grandmother, it was decided that nothing would become of any of that – especially if I wasn’t remembering it…or at least, giving off signs of remembering. After all, as I entered adolescence, the abnormal behaviors (the bath stuff, the soiling) ceased and stopped. My mother had gotten her wish – I’d ‘forgotten’ about it. It no longer existed and it had effectively been swept under the rug. I carried on as ‘normal’ a relationship with my uncle as possible and ignored those little things that I would randomly remember for no particular reason. He has a birthmark on the knuckle side of his right hand – situated between his thumb and forefinger. His favorite breakfast cereal is Puffed Rice. Whenever I’d pass the Puffed Rice in the supermarket, I’d think to myself how much I hated it. He would call me ‘baby girl’ (his nickname for me) and I realized as the years went on, how much I hated that, too. Still, I said nothing, and would shift my thinking whenever any of these things came up. Several years went by without a mention of anything. Still, I remembered, but mentally, leaned more toward the theory that because I couldn’t remember any actual details, then I probably was confused and DID lie. I did, however, see less and less of my uncle, as my grandmother eventually became much older and too weak to host the weekly Sunday dinners. I know that this particular installment is really only supposed to discuss what I remember of my childhood and my young adulthood doesn’t really fall into this category. I however, need to fast-forward for a moment, to when I was twenty-two years old. This took place after I’d been raped at seventeen – after I’d moved out of my mother’s house, after I’d already given birth to my son and married his father. After a series of poorly-made choices that I’ll get into detail on in installment three. It was after life had succeeded in deepening the cracks that were likely made in childhood. My grandmother, sadly, had succumbed to osteoporosis and other health issues, and died in her sleep at home. A day or two following her funeral, my mother and I stopped by her house to sort through some of her things to see what could be kept, what could be donated, what could be thrown away. The minute I walked into her house, I was hit by a feeling of dread. Of unfamiliarity. My uncle let us in, and we saw that he’d already began to ‘move on.’ He (or the ‘bonus uncle’) had transferred all of his religious statues from his chapel upstairs and there they stood, wrapped in protective plastic, in the bedroom that used to be my grandmother’s. He told us of his plans to relocate his chapel downstairs, as well as take over my grandmother’s part of the house for himself – as his knees were declining and it was becoming increasingly difficult to climb up the flight of stairs every day. He was already beginning to fix the cracks in the floors by replacing the rotted wood squares with new ones. It was like a flip was switched. For the first time, I became angry. Grandma wasn’t alive anymore. I no longer had to pretend. I looked again at my uncle and realized how much I fucking hated him. I hated the sight of him. The smell of him. I hated the ‘baby girl’ every time he saw me, I hated seeing that ugly fucking birthmark on his hand every time he reached out to hug me. And he didn’t look like my uncle anymore. Not the uncle I’d been telling myself for all of these years, was probably innocent and that I was a lying piece of shit for having put him through that investigation that nothing ever came out of. No. Now, a look at his face made me want to insta-puke. All over his Jesus statues and new floors. Floors he could have had installed while my grandmother was still living and might’ve had the opportunity to enjoy them! Her body wasn’t even fucking COLD yet, and you’re redecorating!? I’d also, by now, experienced a sexual assault five years earlier – so I am thinking that, combined with the passing of my grandmother, was what made possible the swift, rude uncovering of those bottled-up suspicions that had been collecting dust in the back of my mind. It became harder to believe myself when that tiny six-year-old voice said, “I made it up.” Nothing made sense anymore. I had more questions now than I had answers. Guess what I realized on that afternoon, other than the fact that I hated my uncle? I didn’t make this up. Something happened. Something so horrible, that my brain will not allow me to remember it. A six-year-old kid doesn’t pull this shit out of thin air. Where the hell would she get it from? This started somewhere! I have seen my uncle only a handful of times since my grandmother’s passing in 2002. I cut him out. Completely. I wanted nothing to do with him. I wanted my KIDS to have nothing to do with him. I refused to attend any family gathering where he would be present. I no longer invited him to ours. I had to suck it up at the weddings of both of my sisters – he was there, and I’d had to be polite as not to arouse curiousity. I’d say hello and goodbye and avoid any interaction beyond that. There was a time during my mission to remove him from my life when he’d been hospitalized with an infection, and my mother, thinking he was going to die then, insisted I go see him – the hospital was, after all, just down the street from where I was living at the time. I’d told my husband to leave the car running and took the elevator up. As soon as he saw me, he broke down into tears and blubbered, ‘I didn’t mean for us to be enemies.’ Not knowing what the hell to do with that, I left minutes later, saying that there was no parking and they were waiting for me to come back down. That was as good enough to a confession I was going to get out of him, and I left the hospital that day further convinced that cutting him out was the absolute best choice I could ever make. THAT was what convinced me whenever there was question, whenever there was that moment of doubt. My mother, who, for many years, had seen me ‘carry on’ as if everything were normal, eventually began to ask me why I was so angry with him, why I no longer called him ‘uncle.’ Why I snapped at whomever dared mention his name or sing his praises. Why whenever someone said ‘he’s a priest!’ my face would scrunch as if I’d bitten into a lemon. I would never be able to say anything more than that initial feeling I’d gotten when walking into my grandmother’s house and seeing that he’d gutted it and been so quick to ‘remove’ her from it. He’d treated his mother like shit, he’d likely been anxious for her to die, so that he could redo her house and conform it to his selfish needs. Additionally, I added that he’d cheated my mother out of her inheritance – something I’d find out not too long after. Yes, she would have more reason to be angry with him over that, but it ‘fit’ and it was something more to add to my list of what to be angry with him for…but whether it was enough to hate him was probably unlikely. I also realized that I was becoming increasingly angry with my mother. This, though, was tricky and I couldn’t help but feel incredibly guilty each time I looked at my mother and felt periodic bouts of anger, mixed in with bits of hatred and disgust. To this day, I cannot hug her with my heart – only my arms. I believe this is only because the physical affection was obligatory – a greeting, a farewell, a special occasion – all those things that require hugs and shows of affection – those were easy, mostly because there was usually more than just one person to greet/say goodbye to/congratulate on whatever. I find it sad though, that I cannot hug my mother to show her love. I cannot go to her for comfort. I cannot trust her. But I do love her, in my own distant, detached way. My mother was the one who supposedly loved me the most, the one who molded me into this greatly improved version of what they told her I would be. She’s been there whenever I needed her to be. She helped us financially in the past, and she continues to, if she sees us struggling. She genuinely (and probably) does more for me than she does my sisters. While I’ll always appreciate what she’s done, I’m stuck on what she didn’t do. What she refused to see. For that reason alone, I’d chosen to not tell her about the things that would happen afterwards. My thinking on it – if she failed to help me when I needed it as a child, then she certainly would fail to help me at an older age. She had her chance to help me deal and cope with the aftereffects of abuse, whether it was child abuse or abuse I’d suffer in adulthood, but she failed. I’m unable to find it within myself to give her another chance. Especially now, in adulthood, where she continues to inadvertently insult me by repeatedly throwing her brother into my face. Especially now, that his health has severely declined and he’s actively experiencing end-stage congestive heart failure on top of not being able to walk or do much for himself without assistance – and she’s made efforts to get me to mend fences, even if by way of a greeting or a brief conversation with him before his (long overdue) death. Her efforts have failed, and will continue to fail, for he’s been dead to me for years, already. He ‘died’ on that afternoon in his house when that bottle of memories that I’d tucked away for years, was suddenly knocked off its shelf and had shattered. The idea of him had died. My connection to him – dead and severed. Unfortunately, his physical body has not yet died, despite a heart attack, a quadruple bypass, diabetes, obesity, knee and hip replacements, arthritis, that infectious disease he’d been in for when I’d visited him, and countless bouts of pneumonia and other respiratory issues. I swear, this disgusting, vile, rancid, sorry excuse of a person has more lives than my five cats combined! Anyway – I’ve seemingly gone off course. This installment was supposed to deal with just childhood and what I remember of it. It just seemed pertinent to discuss a little bit of my more recent attempts to reduce contact, especially since some of you have seen me bit*h and complain and moan about my mother and about having to be at the same family gathering as my uncle as recently as a few months ago. In closing, I think that it is safe to say there were many victories within my childhood. I succeeded where kids like me who didn’t have the extensive training did not. I was always ‘ahead’ in language, vocabulary. I thrived in the ‘hearing’ community, when it was told to my parents that the likelihood of that happening was very slim. I’d be more likely to graduate high school with a fourth-grade reading and vocabulary level – but that didn’t happen. I’d learned to function within a hearing community, and I wasn’t that . Granted, my mother had gleaned most of the praise for my accomplishments – having done all of the required foundation work. Perhaps that’s another mother-issue to analyze in another piece of writing – it won’t be done in this one. As there were successes, there were also several failures. Most of them, though, were not my own. Those two ladies who came to our apartment? They failed to persist, to follow up, to see through my mother’s version of events. They believed my mother when she said that I likely misunderstood. I was easily confused, and probably didn’t understand the difference between bad touching and a spank on my ass. So, they let this go. Dr. M? She failed, too. Maybe she had been getting close to uncovering what had really happened. Maybe not. Either way, she’d later tell me (more on that in a future installment) that there had been no resolution, as my mother yanked me from therapy at nine years old. My father – although he is someone I think my mother constantly lied to and therefore the person I truly believe was the most clueless of all of them, also failed by not assuming a more active role. Him, though, I’ve forgiven and don’t begrudge. My mother is a powerful force – and a master manipulator. She knows how to cover things up, how to lie, how to sway a child’s thinking. How to self-protect. Next to her brother, who also quite obviously failed me, she was the one who failed me the most, and in the worst possible way. And for years – I failed myself, too. Even unintentionally, I did so by denying, by burying, by ignoring things, by keeping silent. By lying about what I thought, even if they were lies by omission. By allowing someone else to speak for me, to tell a story that didn’t feel accurate. To always agree, because I was a liar and it didn’t matter what I said – it was wrong. By also giving in and accepting the idea that there was something wrong with me and that was the reason for all those ‘abnormal’ behaviors. Well…no more. It’s time to make this right. Make those things I thought were lies, a truth. Although I cannot correct what others have or haven’t done, it is time to turn my own failures into a victory - even if I do it here, first - behind the safety net that I know will remain intact and where I know I'll be met with the love, support and validation that I truly need. I do not know if I will ever be able to tell this story outside of this forum or to confront those responsible, but to be able to do it here at this time, is a freeing start. - Capulet
  4. I had a dream last night. Wasn't too bad a dream. Unless you consider a glimpse at the pathetic being that I called Uncle for 40 years. It was also a short dream. It took place at a holiday gathering. I want to say it was Christmas - only because that's the first thing that comes to mind. My mother (Oompa) was there. My Dad, my step-parentals. My kids. The wasband's crew was not there, though. My sisters and their spouses (yes, even the one who might not be her spouse much longer) and my nephew and two nieces. And also in attendance was the Most Reverend McNasty and his 'partner.' It might've been a holiday that warranted dressing nicely, but he looked as he did at my nephew's and niece's party where I saw him last. Like a bum. His hair has gotten longer; he'd always had a crew cut. He's put on weight. He's unshaven, looks dirty and disheveled. I'm SURE that had I been within six feet of him, I'd also discover that he smelled badly, too - a combination of rotten farts and sweat. His 'partner' has to hold his hands and 'lead' him around. He cannot walk on his own or without help. He's looking and smelling like the shit he always has looked like. Anyway, this image of him somehow presented itself last night in my sleep. Or it was possibly closer to morning. Either way, I remember waking up to it being daylight. I just laid in bed and processed for a little while before getting up. USUALLY, I have trouble remembering the cryptic messages hidden within dreams as the day goes on. Laying down for a good twenty minutes, just thinking, was the only way to ensure that 18 hours later, I'd be able to write about it. But - in the dream - dinner was being served. A grand spread, it was - as it usually is on the holidays. There was pasta, meat, fish, vegetables, salad - wine, container of ice, napkins all folded, fancy-like. We never did the napkin-folding, so that was one strange thing about it. And the food, you know, if Oompa prepared it, was never that great-looking, either. Everyone was gathering around and getting comfortable in their chairs, passing trays of food around to those sitting next to us. Of course, I chose to sit at the far end of the table, farthest away as I could from my uncle. We must have inhaled our food because only moments later (funny how dreams 'skip,' isn't it?) McNasty's partner pulled me aside as we were getting ready to clear the table - and said, "It might be a good time to make peace with your uncle." "I don't want to talk about it. And besides, this isn't the time or place," I replied. I woke up before he could respond. Immediately, I was relieved to discover this was all a dream and the Most Reverend McNasty was NOT in the same room as I. There was just me, my pillow, my blankets and a couple of oblivious cats. I sometimes dream about people when they're about to die. Or will soon be dead. I'm thinking this is either the case - or Oompa truly got to me last weekend, with all her talk about how ugly and/or disrespectful I was being. I dreamt about my Nana days before she passed. My grandmother, I dreamt of the night BEFORE she died. Sadly, I've not gotten any text from Oompa today in regards to my uncle's failing, circling-the-drain condition - but perhaps this text will come soon. One can hope, anyway. I am of the belief that dreams contain messages and little explanations within - if you can make sense of them. By now, we're all familiar with what Oompa said to me this weekend - that I'd disappointed her by refusing to say 'hello' to him at the last family gathering - and that this was likely the last time I'd see him alive. I do think that the 'holiday' setting within the dream was representative of my not being 'ready' to interact with him - regardless of whether it may possibly be the last time. "Not a good time or place," was what I'd said - and in the dream, I was at a holiday celebration - that right there is NEVER a good place or time to bring up such ugliness. "Not the time or place" is something my mother always said, too, usually when she was dismissing a topic she didn't want to get into - dismissal usually accompanied by 'put it in your sleeve, worry about this later.' I also think it means I've been 'masking' my hatred for this man for far too long. I mean, look at this dream - in it, I'm surrounded by my entire family and no one has any clue of the REAL reasons behind my hating my uncle. They're ALL of the impression that I'm being unreasonable in choosing to not associate with him. I'm STILL lying to all of them and telling them the same story I've been telling them for years - he treated Grandma badly, he cheated my mother out if her inheritance...ANYTHING but the truth. Everyone was enjoying themselves and all I could think about was how uncomfortable I was, even being in the same room as him. When I last saw him, he looked weak, pathetic. He's unable to 'do' for himself anymore. So his partner did for him, just as he 'assisted him' with walking and getting around at the party. In the dream, it was his partner who asked me to make peace with him - in reality, it was Oompa - makes me wonder if he's actually revealed to my mother that it was one of his dying wishes for the niece who hated him to forgive him. Sorry, nope. That's NOT a wish I can grant, nor do I think there will EVER be a time or place where I can forgive him. For fuck's sake, I'm still trying to figure out the answers! I also know that I'm not going to have any regrets for not saying a final hello or goodbye to him while I still can. As far as I'm concerned, he's already dead. So, that was the dream. It was filled with hidden clues - I'm sure there are more that I missed, but for now, I'm needing to purge it from my brain and to forget it for a little while. Seems this is what I do to ensure that when I AM ready to give it more thought, it will be here for me to reflect upon. I also struggle with the thought of him dying, sometimes. Not with the idea of him FINALLY being gone - because really, that would be great and would instantly make the world a much better place. But...where's his next stop??? Naturally, we'd think it was Hell, right? But, see - he's a 'man of the cloth,' a Roman Catholic priest. I sure hope this doesn't give him a free pass or qualify him for a seat in the 'waiting room' to Heaven - the place the Catholics refer to as Purgatory. The Catholic Church (that I was raised following the teachings of) holds that "all who die in God's grace and friendship but still imperfectly purified" undergo this process (which the Church calls 'Purgatory') "so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven." (That last little snippet was from Wikipedia.) In Purgatory, there is an amount of repentance and suffering, after which his soul will ascend into Heaven. It's been a long, LONG time since I gave too much thought to the existence of these three places we could likely go upon our deaths - to Heaven, to Hell or to Purgatory first and then to Heaven. Ah, I don't even know if there's PROOF. No one's ever come back and given a review. And please understand that I am not speaking ill of the Catholic religion - I just never bought into it and having possibly been subjected to CSA by a priest has made religion a VERY hard pill to swallow. I therefore consider myself to be an agnostic - it's just safer that way. I DO know that this is a man who is the farthest from holy as can be. And here he is - about to be judged (if that's true, too) and he'll not pay for any of the horrible things he's done while he was living - will he EVER be held accountable, even if in the afterlife? Or will his 'years of service' afford him a ticket to paradise, even if his misdeeds and injustices land him in Purgatory first? I shudder to think. Guess that's all for tonight - I'm getting a serious case of eye-burn and need to shut them for a few hours. Am hopeful that this morning's (OMG - 3:50am????) dreams are filled with daisies and rainbows and unicorns. I could use a dose of cute to offset the ugly! Hoping also that everyone is doing well this week. I'll be back soon. - Capulet
  5. Hello, everyone! I am hoping this finds you all well. While I am doing fine health-wise, I'm not doing so great with my sleeping. There are some days when I think I've got it all under control and then there are other days when I revert back to what has grown to be all too familiar. While food shopping last week, I found a bottle of NyQuil that is set to expire in three months - it was marked down to $2, so I grabbed it. I have it sitting on my desk as a reminder to go to sleep when the clock passes 2-3am. It sometimes hits 4 before I'll feel tired. Ideally, I'd want to take a swig before 2, but if I'm not feeling 'tired' enough, I'll wait another hour...or two....or three? And then, before I know it, I'm first falling asleep at 4-5am and waking up at 11. That's, of course, on the days I DON'T have my kids here and don't have to worry about getting the daughter up for school. Those nights, I could EASILY not sleep at all and make do with a four-hour nap when she's boarded her bus. What's that, you say? Insomnia's a thing? Really? Hmmm. That's what I have, then - no doubt! So, a little update for you all as I know it's been a while since my last one. (I know. I'm sorry.) First off, I'm officially a student!!!! *insert horns and sirens and whooping noises here!* Last week, I registered for fifteen credits' worth of classes at the University. There's DEFINITELY no turning back, now. My classes start on 8/26 and if all goes well, I'm set to graduate in 2021; with my bachelor's in hand. Most of my credits from 20 years ago have been transferred and there are only a small handful of classes that I have to re-take, that feed into the Social Work major that my previous credits will not satisfy - so there's American Government and then there's a Statistics class that I'm TRULY not looking forward to. My son is going to be taking that very same class, only at a different time slot (he'll literally be arriving when I'm leaving!) and it might be helpful if we could study together. I'm HORRIBLE with numbers - this is something I've unfortunately passed down to both my children, apparently - my daughter is wrapping up seventh grade with all A's and B's but with one C in Math! I admittedly still count on my fingers on some simple addition and subtraction problems!!! Math is just not me, not at all. Statistics is going to be a nightmare, but hopefully the Son and I can hold each other up through it. LOL. The Oompa came with me to register. Being a retired teacher, anything school-related gets her giddy. Plus, she never really had the opportunity to join me when I did this the first time around - so I allowed her to tag along on registration day, so she could feel in the slightest bit needed. I will admit, it was good to have an extra pair of ears along with me, in case I needed them. We met with my academic advisor, who so happens to be the chairman of the Social Work department, as well as one of my professors for one of the introduction to Social Work classes that I'll be taking. So, it was very nice to meet him and get a feel for how he speaks. We all know that any Oompa visit isn't without drama or bullshit. A couple times, I wanted to smack my mother in the mouth. The first comment came while we were waiting to speak with the academic advisor - we were seated outside his office. She asked if I was going to go for my master's. I told her that I didn't want to think that far ahead. I wanted my bachelor's in Social Work and then I wanted to focus on getting myself work. Here's the comment: "And you'll make nothing." It's not about the money, I told her. We all know my reasons for pursuing this field and it's certainly not something I wanted to get into with her. Not now, not ever. I didn't have to, though. She shut up for two reasons - one - the student that was visiting with the academic advisor before us was now leaving, and two, I think she sensed that I wanted to punch her in the throat and felt it was wise to shut her mouth. We had a meeting with the professor/academic advisor and the second comment came while we were walking across campus, making our way over to the bookstore. She spoke to him, though. "Can I ask you something, as a concerned parent?" Oh, here we fucking go.... "Do you think my daughter's disability will make it harder for her to find a job in this field? Do you think she'll run into discrimination?" She actually asked this to the man who was going to be my freaking professor. If I was gonna be able to find a job or if I was just wasting my time. She didn't word it that way, but it's even more clear, she doesn't want me to become a Social Worker. I believe she wants me to become a teacher, or go into Education or to become an educator or mentor for the deaf, something I don't have any desire or passion for - I am not a school person - never was. I'm only finishing school because I've finally got a desire to do something specific and I need the degree. Personal experience doesn't count, apparently. So, why the hell would I want to go into Education???? Why would I want to follow in my mother's footsteps??? I've been trying to run the other way for years! The professor probably couldn't believe the audacity and ignorance of her question either. He somewhat blinked. "Well, we have laws in place against discrimination..." You'd think my mother, the retired EDUCATOR, knew that. She was effectively shut down, though - see, I am of the belief that she wanted him to turn around and say, 'you're absolutely right, maybe Social Work isn't in your daughter's best interests..." but when she didn't hear that, she shut up again. And for good. Possibly because this was where we parted ways with the professor - I told him I was looking forward to meeting him as one of his students in the Fall. And I am. I'm all the more determined to make his class my BEST class (it helps that it's not statistics or history related, it actually has to do with what I am majoring in!) and to show him myself that I'm not the dummy my mother basically cast me out to be. I thank whoever's calling the shots upstairs - (I don't like using 'God,') - that my mother, the social butterfly, had a concert to attend with one of her friends that night and she had to head out immediately following the registration. I think, had I been subjected to more time with her, I would have unleashed on her my anger over WHY she constantly continues to draw attention to my disability - why she keeps inadvertently reminding me that it's a limitation, a reason I might not succeed at something, a reason people would discriminate against me. I cannot understand, why she continues to allow my deafness to define me, who I am. This is one of the things that angers me the most today, one of those things that I have struggled with for all of my life and that I STILL grapple with. My hearing impairment has indeed contributed to a LOT my trauma. I've been slowly realizing that it ALWAYS comes back to it. It contributes to my social issues, too, and there's SO much more to it than Oompa even realizes, but that, I'll take the blame for. That's my fault. I've never told her. Why? Because I'm not heartless. She's proud. I know she is. I am her masterpiece. She's proud that her early intervention is what I can honestly thank for getting me onto the right track. It was because of that early intervention that I am able to speak, I am able to function as if there were no disability. She did that. She pushed, she prodded, she poked. She was a pain in my ass for pretty much ALL of my childhood and formative years, and I DO owe her credit for that. I don't have the heart to show her where she's fallen short. I figure it's more important for me to know for myself where those shortcomings are, and a kindness to her to keep them to myself. While I'll not be able to explain all of that to my mother in detail, I can certainly do so here. I'm not hurting any feelings by doing so. I'm able to speak more freely here - I've always felt that way. On that note, I've begun the undertaking of telling my story. ALL of it. I know there are bits and pieces here and there, and some of you know some of the puzzle pieces already through my posts and blog entries. I'm able to pull out a few smaller pieces at a time, talk on it, and then I toss it back into the box because it's not needed beyond that. I've realized that my story is scattered, it's all over the place, and it's because I've never really taken the time to write all of it out, from start to finish, and to analyze any and all of those little traits and quirks of mine that I've learned to adopt as 'normal,' even if they are not seen as such by someone who cannot relate. I've been tossing the pieces back into the box rather than connecting them all and showing the bigger picture. So, I've been spending the last couple of weeks writing. Not here, obviously. It is currently being drafted via MS Word and I admit I've neglected this blog for a little while - and I apologize for that. I hope to make up for it by posting my story here, too, when I'm finished. It will likely come in three installments. I've done a lot of thinking over the last several weeks - and have come to realize that I don't just have one story. There are three very obvious junctures in my life, all with very different, but equally damaging situations. All three points in my life are contributors to who I am now, who I've learned to be. These are moments that, if I devote enough time to thinking about, will provide the answers to questions that I've recently had to re-ask myself as I begin the next chapters in my life. I suppose, in a way, I am restarting. I don't know if that's even the right term for what I'm doing. I can't say I am picking up where I left off, because I didn't leave off in a good place - I left off at a point where everything derailed and from there, my life took all of these unexpected turns and twists and I lost track of who I was and where I was going in the process. I guess the right term will come to me later, but for now, I'm sticking with that. I'm determined to get these installments out before school starts on the 26th of August - and they'll be posted here as well as in a more follow-able format in Share Your Story. I'm determined, but somewhat nervous at the same time. Like I said, I've told my story before, but I've never really told it in entirety. I've left out details, I've sugar coated enough to send whoever was listening into a diabetic coma. It is the first time that I am able to tell these stories without being afraid of what others may think, of being judged, of being criticized, of being told my feelings, thoughts, and reactions weren't normal. Yes, it is being done here, from within a community where there is no fear of these things, but it's indeed a start. Rome was not built in a day, and my story will not reach beyond its intended audience until much later. I just feel ready now, to begin writing it and sharing it with whomever would like to truly understand me. I don't know that I'll have this desire later, nor if I'll have the time, so while the motivation is there, I'm taking myself to task. I am sure this writing I've set out to do, too, is a contributor to not being able to sleep - I'm in the middle of some pretty hard stuff and am finding myself opening the word document only to close it after adding one or two sentences here and there. This isn't easy by a long shot. But I'm thinking that once the hardest parts are written, then I can focus on somewhat of 'cool down' writing - focus on writing about the harder stuff in the daytime and the milder thoughts in the evenings...I'll force myself to Ny-Quil no later than 1, be in bed by 1:30....set my alarm for 8 or 9am and eliminate the naps. It's a plan, anyway! When school starts, I'll need to have this routine down pat as my first class will begin at 9am daily. Perhaps subconsciously, it's why I'm trying to focus on the harder details now as opposed to when I will have less time to sift through it all and give it the attention it deserves. So...there's that. Other than the above mentioned, there really aren't many things to report as happening in my life. The Son has been finished with classes for a while and the daughter's last day of seventh grade is tomorrow. The next few weeks are going to be insane as during the first week in July, they both become another year older (19 and 13) and we will have family coming in for the celebrating and festivities, and of course, the anticipated drama that I'll likely be posting in my next entry. (That is, providing my next entry isn't the first installment!) I hope all is well with everybody. Until later, - Capulet
  6. Well, I finally decided it was time to write again. My life has been hell to say the least for the last week. I am on medication and a lot all for my mental health. i have meds that help with my PTSD, anxiety, anti depressants, sleeping, nightmares/ flashbacks,, hallucintations/voices, a medication to help with the sideaffects and one that is supposed to inhance the meds that i take. i hate taking medication but i know i need them and have come to accept that fact. well, i pick up my meds for two weeks at a time. so naturally i go in last thursday to pick them up. they werent ready and they had already tried to reach my psych doctor twice with no answer. ok thats fine. so they were not ready. so i called on friday to make sure they are ready to pick up. i got the shock of my life. the doctor refused to fill them until he saw me again. that is bullshit i was beyond pissed. i have just spent the entire weekend awake for five days i had no medication in my system. i didnt think i was going to make it through it. i had to make arrangements for my daughter to stay some where safe in case i had to go into the hospital. it got bad couldnt eat couldnt sleep, the voices got out of control as did the hallucinations and anxiety. well, i had both therapy and seeing the doctor on tuesday. i feel so bad for my therapist. by the time i saw her i was so out of it i didnt know which was up and which was down. i dont remember our entire session just bits and pieces. i was so out of it that i remember talking about my hair and sitting there crying because it was dirty. i dont remember much more. i do know tuesday when i see her again i will be apologizing to her because i know that it couldnt have been a comfortable or easy session for her. i finally got to see my doctor later on tuesday. i went in and before he could even say i word, i said look we have two options today. we are either putting my meds back into my system or he needed to admit me to the hospital i knew i had gotten to the point i could no longer keep myself safe. he said he didnt like me off my meds because i was demanding. im like no kidding put yourself in my shoes and lets see how you handle it.i asked him why he did this and although in a way i understand why but there should been a safer way to go about this. his reasoning behind it was because he was not the original doctor who prescribed them and he wanted to make sure i needed them. Really, why the hell do you think im on them?!! i do understand but really should have been safer about it. i am looking for a new psych doctor because im not risking going through this hell again, im just not strong enough. thankfully i am back on them but they are not at the proper doses he had to put me on three of them on a lower dose to start with. one is the nightmare/flashback one. and he said that it will be a few days before i start feeling better. i just am pissed how this went down. other than that, i ahave been struggling with self harm. i feel so alone anymore i dont know maybe i am beyond help and i know for sure i dont deserve it. i feel like all i do is cause more damage even when im trying not to. my mind is still on fast forward. oh well, all i can do is hold on for the ride. i maybe on my own but for now i guess that is how it is meant to be.
  7. Hello everyone!!! I'll first acknowledge how long it's been since my last update...things have been - well - crazy. Not necessarily a 'bad' kind of crazy - but perhaps the crazy that instead keeps me from being able to sit down and say that I've actually had time to process it all. Sometimes it takes me time to even WANT to process some of it, so that delays me even more. The post-Oompa headache (that pounding sensation at my temples that I experience whenever my mother takes herself and her drama and goes HOME) has subsided and I'm finally able to sit in reflection. Sometimes her visits are 'meh,' and sometimes they leave my brain feeling like the aftermath of a tornado. Like, this past visit to our house for the holiday, for example. To start - my mother is 'preoccupied' these days. Earlier last week, she found out that my youngest sister's husband has been cheating. My mother, of course, was the first person my sister told; so now, naturally, everyone knows. I was the first one Mom told - followed by the "please don't tell anybody." Why? Because my brother in law is 'embarrassed.' He's the uncle that my kids ABSOLUTELY adore, the one son-in-law that my mother used to be able to boast about, the one daughter who had a husband that was 'a good one.' He was the one up on the proverbial pedestal, but now that has come toppling down. Now, Mom's illusion of the 'perfect' couple has been shattered - and you'd think my brother-in-law cheated on my mother instead of my sister. It's all about Mom, don't you know? It's always about her - because she has to be involved in the things that she has nothing to do with, she has to have a say in everything. Apparently now that it's been revealed that my brother-in-law was cheating with someone at work - she's looking up potential alternative jobs for him - jobs elsewhere. Yes, there's a lot wrong with that picture, if you ask me...but, this is not my business any more or less than it is hers - so...moving on. At any rate, she came here for Easter - although I'm sure it was begrudgingly; we all know that she wanted to be at my sister's side. My sister had standing plans to go to her in-laws' for the holiday - (I should mention that she is being supported 100% by my brother-in-law's parents - they are absolutely FURIOUS with him for shaming their 'respectable' family - and are backing her completely - even if it means letting him shack up in his old bedroom because my sister kicked him out) - and upon finding out about her husband's infidelity, wasn't sure if she wanted to go to his family's for the holiday. Oompa, whose plans were to be here with us, put herself on standby - if my sister decided to not go to her in-laws', then Oompa would be spending Easter with her, instead. My sister, Oompa claims is 'needy,' (she is, she calls Oompa for EVERYTHING) and she didn't want her to be alone. As it turns out, my sister DID go to the in-laws'....my lying, cheating brother-in-law has a lot of reparations to make; even so, there's no guarantee they'll be able to re-establish trust. Even I know though, that this is something they have to work out. Just them. This is something that has to be figured out by the two of them alone, and without the influence of my mother, or of his parents. Maybe there's a marriage counselor involved, but that's it. This is something that NO ONE can fix, other than the main players - her and him. That's IT. ANY sensible person knows that!! Oompa, of course, doesn't understand this. She spent a good portion of the weekend (while she was here) bitching about how shocked she was to hear about the marital problems they were having, not to mention looking up job openings for my brother-in-law ('he has to get away from that skank!!!') and calling around to inquire....she even called my sister every few hours to see how she was doing, probably hoping my sister would say she wanted her to go home and be with her. She didn't. So, although my mother stayed from all day Friday until early Monday morning, I could tell she really wasn't wanting to be here - she was physically present, but mentally, she was elsewhere. At one point, I had to say to my mother, "She'll (my sister) be fine. She's a big girl. There's nothing you can do." OK, so...we're now all aware of Oompa's mindset...overall, she was NOT focused on visiting or enjoying time with any of us or even on the holiday. In hindsight, it would have made more sense for her to have not come at all. On Easter morning, she went to church at one of the local Catholic parishes around where we live. I managed to sleep in. I got up a few minutes before she came back from Easter mass. While I was still 'waking up,' she got a call from her brother - (yes, the same piece-of-shit I've mentioned in previous blog entries, the same one she wanted me to greet at the family gathering last month!) - and when I came into the kitchen, she was in the middle of that phone call. He had called to wish her a Happy Easter and I'd walked in during the tail end of their conversation. When she hung up, she sighed, shook her head, and got back to preparing this (god-awful) pie she had decided to bake for our Easter dessert later on. "That was your uncle," she said while mixing pie ingredients, "He's not doing well." And then, like one of those old-fashioned Italian grannies, she shook the wooden spoon she was using in the general direction of my face, and said, "Not that you care. And God don't like ugly!" I blinked at her. Honestly, I was at a loss for words. At that moment, I'm 'hearing' the thoughts in my head. She's not okay right now. She's NOT calling ME ugly...she's just overwhelmed with EVERYTHING ELSE, and doesn't know what she's saying....yeah, that's it...right??? That's what's happening here? I guess I must have shrugged, too. She went on, "THAT was why I wanted you to say hello to him at your nephew's birthday party. It very quite possibly could have been your FINAL hello!" Okay, that's it. I couldn't bite my tongue any further. "He's been dead to me for years, already." I told her with one of my famous nonchalant shrugs. I'd already suspected that was her reason for wanting me to say hello to him - so he could die thinking everything was peachy keen between him and the niece he'd been so estranged from for almost two decades? That a 'hello' would somehow 'fix' this??? Hah. Little did she know that I was fully prepared to do a happy dance whenever she would confirm to me that he'd soon be meeting his end. It just didn't seem to be the right time to express my overwhelming joy over this man soon being reduced to nothing but a pile of shit, maggots and formaldehyde. "STILL." She said, spoon still waving, "I taught you girls to have respect!" "Yes, you did." I agreed, "And I have respect for those who deserve it." She went back to preparing her pie. My stepfather was sitting at the kitchen table at the time of this dialogue/exchange and was mumbling. This is his 'normal,' though. He either mumbles or he screams. And I'm not even sure WHAT he was mumbling about. But all of a sudden, my mother whips her head around and (almost TOO) quickly snaps for him to 'shut up.' She went on to say to her husband, "You don't know what you're talking about! That's not it, it has to do with my mother and the inheritance, she's mad at him because of that....not because of...you need to shut up! Just SHUT UP!!!!" (And all of this was accompanied with the wide, wild eyes and facial expression that just added exclamation points to her words.) He mumbled again - but these words were haunting; "that's just what she tells you." I don't know what it was that he said (mumbled) to make her so snappy, but he's certainly right about that - what I tell her is what I've been sticking to for all of these years that I've chosen to eliminate her brother from my life. Now here's where I hate my hearing loss the most - I wasn't going to ask him to repeat himself and to inquire as to what he'd said to make my mother so agitated. By now, she'd had her outburst and he'd ceased his mumbling and I'm shit out of luck - no one else was there to 'hear' him for me - and when it was being said, ALL I could focus on was my mother's reaction. I know that reaction all too well - it's the same one she puts on when she is trying to 'prevent' information from being given out or trying to say, 'it's time to nix this conversation' with her eyes. What gives, Ma? Why are you so angry? Why are you so anxious for your husband to 'shut up?' What are you afraid your husband is going to 'remind' me of?? Truthfully, I've not been giving too much thought to 'things' lately. I've been trying to focus on going back to school, sticking to the 'important' things going on in my life currently - THIS is not something I want in my forefront, or anywhere near it at the moment. My suspicions of childhood CSA is something there's no resolution to - not now. Not until perhaps, my disgusting uncle finally DOES drop dead. He's been expected to die before - and I've learned that unfortunately, this putrid asshole has more lives than all five of my cats combined - he's cheated death before, it'd be premature to celebrate his departure now - no, this will have to wait until that call finally DOES come. THEN, I'll deal with whatever feelings should pop up, be they good ones or not-so-favorable ones. Even so, I don't know HOW I'm going to approach this subject. What I DO know, though, is she won't be involved when and if I do. In the meantime, and even though this is not a priority, I'm finding it increasingly disturbing that my mother, someone I am supposed to look up to, someone I'm supposed to be proud of, instead disgusts me. Lately, I'm just appalled even more on how she STILL continues to invalidate me by demanding respect for someone who doesn't deserve it. Oh, and now that it's even more clear she will go to great lengths to 'silence' anyone else with differing opinions on why I don't want this man in my life, more or less alive. And last, but not least, she'll make ANY situation about HER - whether it's about me or one of her other daughters, she'll find a way to flip it and make it HER problem. I hate to admit to so, but she truly has an unhealthy obsession with feeling needed, feeling wanted. She can't just let people deal with things in the way they want or need to; she can't resist the urge to insert herself into the situation and to make herself involved. Instead of just being there as a support, she has to make herself a PART of the problem! I dunno about you, but this all makes my mother a VERY difficult person to enjoy being around. Sadly, all I can think about is how she's looking uglier by the day. You're right, Mom. "God don't like ugly." Go say that in front of a fucking mirror, maybe it'll sink in. - Capulet
  8. Peacefuldaydream

    Day Two

    He is such an asshole. I am floored every day by his actions. Especially now that I'm starting to understand the extent of the abuse I survived with him. Long story very short, he took our daughter. I know why; he doesn't want to pay child support and wants the benefits he gets through the state with her. It's incredibly greedy. I thought that maybe I was wrong about the money, still doubting myself after everything he has put us through. Until today. He claimed her on both tax years, telling his lawyer to tell mine that I said he could do this so he is doing it. I never said such a thing. So, he changes the story to say that, since I took her from him for six years, he is going to take the extra tax year. That's what he's been saying about everything. He is simply going to take what he feels like taking. He took her. He took what he felt like was his extra time by denying me my right to see her for an entire year. He took the tax years. He is going to take our child from me. I can't believe this man can be so heartless, that there are such heartless people in this world. And I can't believe I can't find it in my heart to be even an inkling as spiteful. I just want her to come home and for us to have a relatively normal, hostile-free co-parenting relationship. I wouldn't even mind the occasional disagreements. But this, this is almost too much to take. She didn't want to talk to me for long today. She seemed distracted and upset, but didn't want to discuss it. I hope he hasn't started pressuring her to say she wants to stay with him. Man, I really hope this investigator is good enough to see passed his stupid facade...
  9. For the last few weeks, we have had a broken front door lock; and my son's key was refusing to come out of the door. Home Depot wanted $130 for a new lock/set that looked the most like the one we have now. $130 that we just didn't want to have to spend right now. I now have past-due vet bills, a car payment, increased insurance payments, this just wasn't on my to-do list. So, we left the son's key in the door (it was LITERALLY stuck and wasn't even turning, so it was impossible for anyone else to pull the key out and let themselves into my house) and started using the top deadbolt lock until we could invest in a new one. In that time, we've had several people (to include two of our neighbors, the cable guy, the mailman, and the UPS delivery man) point out that our key was still in the door. "We know," I'd tell them all, then would fidget with the lock to see if by some miracle, the key was removable, yet. The movie, "Sword in the Stone" comes to mind. It was confirmed that not even King Arthur himself could turn this piddly little key, and I've been delaying having to shell out the $130 for about a month, now. Yesterday, I was inspired to, once and for all, get out the tool box and see what I could do. There had to be SOMETHING going on inside the lock, some reason the key wouldn't turn. The sun was out and I wouldn't be freezing if I stood in the doorway and did some investigating. In between shooing the cats from the wide-open door, I managed to take the whole thing apart. The key remained in the lock and despite all the jiggling and button pressing and tinkering, it was LOOKING like I needed to invest that $130. I needed to now put it all back together, or there would literally be a hole in the front door that the neighbors, cable guy, postman, UPS man would ALL be able to see through. The first time I put it back together, I found that I couldn't even turn the KNOB now. Screwdriver got thrown. Slew of obscenities flew out of my mouth. Picked up phone to text J to see if she'd pick up a lock set on her way home from work - but decided against hitting 'send.' I was going to try this again - I REALLY didn't want to spend $130!!! Picked screwdriver up, and in the process, scared the cat who had gone over to investigate it. Took apart the knob and handle again, did some more tinkering, and apparently, all of my swearing must have helped, because not only was the knob turning now, but, out came the key, too. YES. I screwed in for the second time the knob and handle. Confirmed that the inside knob was now turnable post-screwing and the button on the handle was press-able. I wasn't brave enough to try the freed key yet because I wasn't confident enough in my hardware skills to say it wouldn't get stuck again. Nevertheless, I texted the wife to let her know that I didn't know exactly how, but that I'd fixed the door and saved us a trip to Home Depot. Not that there was one planned, but it was likely having to be planned soon! Small update on this, since this was yesterday's excitement - I did end up trying the key when I returned it to the Son - I locked myself outside and used the key to let myself back in. He's now put it back onto his keyring and I'm patting myself on the back. $130 is a lot of fucking money to save, isn't it? Yeah, I thought so. So, it's confirmed. Gone (for now) are the days of having to explain to houseguests that the key being left in the door was NOT a result of absentmindedness and that it was because the lock, somehow, was stuck. Please don't ask me how I fixed it. I couldn't tell you. So, this opens the door (no pun intended, or maybe it IS?) to conversing about something that I've come to realize over the last few weeks. People have been trying to fix ME for years. My mother was first. I came out 'defective' and with two bad ears. They told her I'd NEVER speak (big surprise, I'm sure, to those who know me now - I'm not an overly loud person but if I'm comfortable with someone, I do NOT shut up!) and she made it her personal mission to 'correct' the doctors and audiologists. She made it a priority to raise me as she would a hearing child. Sign language was out of the question. I had no deaf friends. I don't know if this caused more damage, socially (it likely did) but it was almost definitely a result of her trying to 'fix' me. Yes, when she realized she had a deaf child, she did rise to the occasion and did whatever she could to to make sure that I thrived, regardless of how. It's HARD to say whether she had my best interests in mind, or it was more so in her own to have as 'normal' as possible a child. My parents also tried to 'fix' me by taking me to therapy as a child - I will never know their real reasons for introducing therapy into an 8-year-old child's life but have very deep suspicions it is for the behaviors that I was demonstrating - behaviors indicative of being exposed to CSA. This is something my mother was never willing to see, even though the signs were all there. As far as she was concerned, I was not behaving normally, and it needed to be fixed. Oddly enough, she decided that there was enough 'fixing' done after a year and I was unexplainably yanked from therapy. The behaviors continued well into my teen years, so I don't know - while I don't want to say the effort was wasted, I don't see that there was any resolution, either. As some of you know, I became recklessly promiscuous following the rape in 1996. There was partner after partner - both men and women. Some knew more than others as far as my history - and some insisted that I just needed to be "taught" how to enjoy sex. "Just let me try this," they'd say while I laid there, TRYING not to flip out, "you will like it, trust me." There was ultimately NO 'fix' here, but they sure as hell tried! My ex-husband tried to 'fix' me by pointing out EVERYTHING I did wrong. It didn't matter if it wasn't illegal-kind of wrong - if it was not up to his standards, it was wrong. Yes, he used manipulation more often than he did not, and he was SO talented at getting me to actually BELIEVE him. I believed him enough at one point to completely transition into the mindset that if things weren't done HIS way, then they were automatically incorrect. And so, even though his 'right way' of doing things didn't necessarily match mine, I went out of my way to ensure HE was happy. Reflecting on all of this - I think I always thought I was broken - even as a young child. Here was everyone telling me what I needed to do, what was best for me, what would work, what wouldn't. Rather than take the reins myself (when I was old enough to), I placed my trust into the wrong people and listened to them instead of listening to myself. Instead of chalking things up to opinion, I'd say, "sure, I'll try this. Sure, I'll do that. Whatever you think will fix the problem, I'll do." I suppose trusting myself to make better choices was always an issue, perhaps even more so after enduring trauma, but that's just another factor to consider as I try to get to the bottom of this. If I wasn't broken before, this definitely is what did it. All of the 'fixing' others have tried to do, only succeeded in breaking me further. I know there's only one person that can truly fix me. Right - me, myself, and I. That's it. It just became SO easy to let others guide me - they'd been doing it so long and I never had the confidence (or motivation) to speak up for myself. Having this newfound confidence scares me now as I'm not used to fixing anything other than unruly doorknobs or a tech issue here and there. I'm now recognizing the difference between what needs to be fixed and what was never broken and am wondering just how much was even necessary! Has this made it harder for me to fix myself? Maybe THIS is why I'm feeling particularly stuck nowadays, why these 'grown-up' decisions are seeming so hard? No one suggested going back to school, starting up with counseling, participating in a local Survivors Art/support group. These were all things I took on, by myself, as a first step toward fixing my own way of thinking. The only fixing I'm going to do for the rest of tonight is that of dinner. London Broil on the barbecue - sun's still out and it's a good grilling day. Back next time. Hoping you're all having a good day! Peace, love and hugs, - Capulet
  10. As promised, the update on yesterday's family gathering - dual birthday party for my nephew (5) and my niece (1). I meant to update earlier but a status update seemed more appropriate - admittedly, I was a ball of nerves, and my mother wasn't helping matters any. There was much to say, much swirling around in my already-busy brain, but I figured, lemme get through the day, first - let me recuperate (with or without Lucy's 5-cent therapy) and THEN I'd write on this. To backtrack, my sister decided to invite my mother's brother to a birthday celebration for her kids - he is a person who, just hearing his name, sets me off into a fit. We all know that she tried to get my father to chauffeur him home from the birthday party - as he would have to pass through the town the Uncle lived in on his way home. I was put in a very uncomfortable position when this originally came up and had no choice but to drop it at the time of discussion. It was either that, or open up a can of worms that I wasn't ready to open. I agonized over this upcoming party for two months. Over seeing him, over what would happen after seeing him, over the what-if-I-lose-my-shit-publicly question. In that two months, I've had enough 'other things' happen that this just seemed - STUPID - to think about. It wasn't an easy couple months - we lost a pet, we've hit some financial hard times, and we've had to refocus on the positive things in order to make the time go by faster. The only problem with that - this party crept up quicker than I thought it would. After my sister texted me to ask me to show up an hour early to help 'set up' for the party, I texted Oompa to ask if I'd be walking into any surprises. She'd mentioned briefly (or she might have mentioned more but whenever she says ANYTHING about her brother, I develop amnesia and out comes the usual response: 'oh, okay...') that he was back in the hospital sometime last month. I will gladly admit to you all that I HOPED this meant he wouldn't still be coming, being unhealthy and all that. Regardless, she responded to my text with, "what do you mean?" I asked her flat-out then, "is L going to be there?" She confirmed yes, he was still going to be in attendance. And then followed up with, "do me a favor and please just say hello to him. Then you can ignore him for the rest of the afternoon. And have the kids say hello, too." I didn't like this AT ALL, but said I'd wave. I didn't say though, that he'd see me wave. And I told her I was NOT going to ask my kids to say hello to him. He was nobody to them - (and not for nothing, the daughter barely says hello to people she DOES know!) - and it didn't matter to me whether or not they chose to say hello - it was up to them. She probably didn't like that at all, but said nothing more. We arrived at the party early enough to help my sister set things up. When he showed up, J made sure I was clear across the room. And my J had been asking me for weeks already - why am I even going to this thing? That kitchen confrontation between me and my parents should have resulted in a firm 'if he's going to be there, I will not be going.' And, to a point, she's right. If this was anything BUT a birthday party for my autistic nephew who would likely have been disappointed if I didn't go - I probably would have made that statement. So I said I'd go for him, for my nephew, whom I have no intention of ever disappointing - and that I'd do everything in my power to avoid my uncle and focus on the kids instead. Which I did manage to do yesterday. I didn't say hello, I didn't make eye contact, I didn't wave, and when I saw him being 'led' around (he can't walk without assistance), I simply walked into the opposite direction. (HUGE shout-out to my cousin who unknowingly rescued me from his path by asking me if I wanted to get a cup of coffee from the dessert table! Well-timed, and well-played, cousin!) There were times when I'd glance at him - at how pathetic he was. He looks disheveled, dirty, unshaven. Don't get me wrong, he was ALWAYS disgusting looking - more so to me than to anyone else, perhaps, but even more so now that I am grappling with whether he is responsible for the things I understand on a very deep level but cannot remember. Everything I find disgusting about him is amplified, a hundred-fold. Even the daughter wrinkled her nose at the sight of him - and the son was heard (even if only by J) calling him 'the molester' and questioning why he'd been invited. I responded to them both to simply ignore him if they wished - that was what I was doing. My guess is - they'd been told by the wasband that he was an unsavory sort and simply didn't care to ask their father to elaborate. They kept their distance, though - which was relieving. I waited until he'd left the building before using the bathroom, which was inconveniently located behind where he was sitting. Holding my bladder for a couple of hours, to me, was WELL worth it! After the party, we went to get some food at Applebee's. Oompa texted me when we were waiting to get our check. "Did you say hello to your uncle?" I stared at my phone for about five minutes. No, I hadn't. I had made sure to avoid contact, simply because I didn't want to see him. I knew that a 'hello' would have turned into a conversation. Rather than risk saying something I didn't feel was best said at a kiddy party, I had decided against even the wave. I didn't want him even LOOKING at me, which I'm sure couldn't be avoided. For a few minutes, I considered telling my mother that I had waved but didn't think he saw me...but why lie? She'd only ask if he saw me wave. And we'd end right back up at square one. "No, I didn't," I decided that the truth was better, and texted back. She came back with, "Yet, you said you would say hello for my sake." The idea of telling her I waved but he didn't see me, once again paraded through my mind. Instead, I said, "I didn't want to end up having a conversation with him. I have nothing to say to him." "I didn't ask you to have a conversation with him," she said, "I just asked that you say hello. You know that when I ask you for something, there's usually a reason." "Oh, yeah?" I shot back, "What was the reason, then?" She said she couldn't discuss it then. She likely had my sister's nose peering over her shoulder - or she was on the phone with him, and he was probably bitching about that niece (and her kids) who didn't even acknowledge he existed. Either way, I very honestly don't give a shit. There is absolutely NO reason whatsoever that would make my saying hello to a pedophile, a good one. I AM sure I'll hear about it when she comes to visit in a couple weeks - J and I have already discussed what possible reasons there could be - maybe his recent hospital visit has revealed that he's finally going to be dead soon? * Side note - I just had a nice mental image of him bending over, looking into the hole that will become his final resting place - and me walking by, kick-shoving him into that hole and continuing on my merry way....yeah, just thought I'd leave that there. It is one thing that made me smile yesterday amidst all the mixed-in bouts of anxiety. But it certainly conveys how much I've been looking forward to hearing that he's another step closer to the eternal fires of Hell. Anyway - when that 'reason' (Oompa's reason, that is, whether or not it matches the one I'm fantasizing about) is revealed - I'll be sure to let you all know as I'm sure you're all as curious as I am. For now, though, I can only assume that he's not doing well, health-wise, and my mother is trying to eliminate any 'guilt' on my part for not having been cordial toward him when I saw him last. This just further confirms that Oompa is completely clueless. And ANY thoughts of someday telling her MY reasons for hating this man are now further away from ever being made a reality. There is just NO way that I can trust her with it - all I'll be left with is even MORE invalidation....and really, who wants that? Show of hands? Yeah, I didn't think so. In the meantime, I'd like to thank each and every one of you who rode in my pocket yesterday. I felt you all there, and love you all. This'll be a short-ish entry tonight; I'll be back later this week with an update on the 'other' stuff. There's lots to share, but for now, I wanted to just clear this off of my mind. As always, comments and thoughts (and guesses on the 'reasons') welcome - we could probably get our bets in before Oompa's visit during the first week in April and it might be fun to see who's right!? Either way - I am sending you all love and hugs and plenty of well wishes. Hoping your weekend went well! Until next time. - Capulet
  11. I never thought that I would attempt to do my blog again but im doing it in a different way this time, in hopes it can help me deal with the strong emotions and allow myself to feel them as I write. Recently my brother committed suicide by over dose. I also am experiencing loss of my mental health support and many changes are happening. now that we know the place this blog is coming from guess im going to get started. To my Brother: Why the hell did you leave me to walk through this world alone and with out you. You broke your promise to never leave me you LIED!!! Out of everyone that has hurt me you just fucking out did them all. You have torn my world apart. You are through with your and have just ripped me apart while doing it. I hate you so much right now. why couldn't you reach out I would do anything for you, I would gladly have died for you all you had to do is ask. you took the easy way out and that's not fair. I don't know how to live without you. you took my beatings as a child, you tried to protect me from the bad guys. you were my hero, my best friend, my brother. you did a permitant solution a temporary problem. I know how hard it is to trust and I knw how much pain you had, but I have that to and I didn't take my life even though I have wanted too. I feel more loss. I DONT know how to live without you and I don't want to. you have a niece that even though you only saw her once and watched her grow through pictures I made sure she knew who you were. she adored you, that one special day when I got to see you with her. she is so proud of you and proud of herself for helping you be clean for the 9 months she was in me. I am sorry that you were told you weren't welcome at the birth of her. I wanted you there to experience that with me and I know it hurt you that that happened. now the only way she will know you, my best friend, is through pictures and my memories you took away the chance for her to make sweet memories of you, why did you steal that from her? you were selfish and that's all there is to it. I fucking hate you with every breath in my body. yet at the same time I love you and want you back. I would do anything to have you back, but I know that cant happen. yes I still love you and my heart hurts for you, that it got to the point you thought that was the only option.One day ill be able to forgive you but today isn't that day. I don't want to accept that you are gone. I really do miss you. we had so much fun together. yes there were bad times but there also were good times and that what I want to remember of you. I am so sorry I wasn't there for you. even though this pain is here it will one day ease. for now my dear brother all I can say is this: I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU!!!!
  12. Did I mention how much of a pain in the ass my mother is? You all might know her as Oompa at this point, but - I might change that to 'pain in the ass.' She's always going to look like an Oompa Loompa, but lately this new nickname for her is becoming FAR more appropriate. I might have indeed mentioned...but just in case I didn't... My. Mother. Is. A. GIANT. Pain in the ass! I just spent most of this morning arguing with her and one of my lovely readers is likely going to have to front me some bail money because I'm about to be arrested for matricide. Unless of course, I can 'untwist my panties,' (as she so eloquently put it) by venting here. It seems like a much safer alternative to jail time, so - here goes. The son has pretty much commandeered use of my car - he uses it to get back and forth to the (local) college. When he goes back to the wasband's on Saturday evenings, he will take the car with him (unless I need it for any other reason) and more often than not, it's with him these days more than it's with me. That's okay - this was always my intention - let him 'take over' my car - in lieu of a hefty monthly car payment, he would pay for gas, insurance and any other upkeep/maintenance costs on that car - and I would get a new one to ensure I had a means of getting from A to B without having to rely on anyone else. I've told him this, too - 'you NEED to find a job - if you want to have a car (and I added the usual mom-style pep talk about growing up, becoming responsible, etc) then you NEED to start learning how to budget and manage your money.' As is, we are now living somewhere where 4WD is NEEDED and owning a SUV is highly recommended - and although my existing car (which will soon be the Son's) does not have 4WD and is TERRIBLE in the snow, I don't have the heart to trade it in as it was bought from money my aunt and uncle left me upon their passing. Rather than the son spend the money (that he doesn't have) on a car that he'll have payments (that he cannot make) on, he can make do with a significantly reduced financial responsibility and use my old car to get to school/work. It does snow a lot here, but it's NOT a CONSTANT problem - when it does snow, his classes are usually cancelled anyway. I have some money saved - and am now feeling the need to be situated with a car - I'm going to be starting school in the fall, so there's a little time. However, I've realized that the son is also dragging his feet. He won't move unless I do. He had PLENTY of time to find a job during his first semester (last fall) and didn't. He isn't fully to blame for this, though - the wasband (another VERY accurate addition to my 'Top Five' Pains in the Ass) has been taking the majority of his elder son's and daughter's paychecks, 'to pay house bills with.' Our son, aside from having an endless supply of self-admitted laziness, is a VERY perceptive and observant young man. He sees that his older brother and sister NEVER have a penny to their names - they work and hand their paychecks over. This has been going on for months, already, and my elder stepson, having finally reached his limit, has left the wasband's home and moved back in with his mother. There was a HUGE blowout between him and the wasband, something I had no idea was happening until AFTER the fact - and long story short, Junior is no longer 'supporting the family,' and MY son has now been told that he now has to take over Junior's job working alongside his sister at HER job. This means, now the son has a job. Which is what I've been waiting for. It is my intention to let the wasband know that he's going to need to afford the son a little bit of leniency with his paychecks so that he has the money he'll need in order to maintain the expense of having his own car and possibly his tuition so that he doesn't doom himself to a lifetime of debt. So, how does Oompa fit into all of this? Well, for starters, she knows I've been saving up to buy a car. And now, my savings is starting to dwindle - as we have lately had some hefty financial responsibilities - vet bills, vacation bills, household repairs, etc, all in the last three months. The vacation we planned on, but the rest, we did not. So, now, I am of the impression that leasing my next personal-use vehicle is likely my best option. But being 'President's week,' she has began to urge me to research the sales because 'there are some excellent deals out there.' Not a lie, but still, considering the window of opportunity is beginning to close on the Son's EVER being in a position to control his own finances, it's time to move. To top that off, my sister's best friend's husband is a dealer at the Subaru near her and he's 'EXCELLENT' and 'can get me a good deal.' (Though, likely only on a Subaru.) I've always wanted a Jeep. I've already accepted that I'll not be able to afford the pretty purple Wrangler that sits teasingly in front of the local dealership - but saw today that a local dealership is offering NEW Jeep Cherokees, and I could lease for $169 a month. I supplied Oompa (the pain-in-the-ass) the phone number and instead of calling THEM to find out more about this 'special,' she called the dealer she knew. She then mentioned that he wouldn't recommend a Jeep (as no Subaru employee likely would) and that he recommended an Impreza or a Legacy and could get good deals on those cars for me. We could go see him on Saturday because he got my brother-in-law a good deal on HIS car - he would definitely do the same for me. I told her that those cars mentioned were NOT SUVs. And I had told her previously that I did not want anything other than a SUV. WHY was she pushing cars? Apparently, 'they have 4-wheel drive,' but, still. These are CARS. I told her, 'I am absolutely not wasting my time looking at cars when I already know what I want." "But why do you need such a big car?" I could NOT believe she'd just asked me that. I've never had a big car/SUV. Before my Avenger, I had a Neon. Before that, a Mitsubishi Mirage. My SISTER, (who is smaller than me) - has a GMC Acadia - that is a VERY large SUV. Why doesn't she ask HER why she needs such a big car? She has two kids - who combined, are still much smaller than my 12 year old. My 18 year old is bigger than ME. J is bigger and taller than me. What if I want to take my family somewhere? We're not all going to fit in a clown car! I told her I had my heart set on a Jeep. She then proceeds to tell me that I should look them up online - they're not the most reliable, they're not the safest (Subaru is) and they've got bad reputations. She actually went as far as to say she wouldn't 'cooperate,' should I not agree to keep an open mind and at least LOOK at cars that are 4WD. Yes, you heard correctly - SHE will not cooperate. Another manipulation tactic. I'm DONE with manipulation. In the course of my forty years, manipulation has been a constant. My mother and my ex being the two biggest offenders - the reason for that being they were people I depended on most. Yes, manipulation indeed goes hand-in-hand with dependency - for if you 'upset' or 'disappoint,' you lose a means of support - whether it is a GOOD source of support is irrelevant. What matters is, I THOUGHT these people actually were looking out for my best interests, and am sad to realize that this was never the case - it is a matter of what is more convenient for them, what THEY want. There were almost always ulterior motives. And I'm not even sure what my mother's motives are, here - was she trying to get my sister's friend's husband a commission? I finally said, 'Look - NOTHING pisses me off MORE than someone who tries to change my mind when I've made it clear what I'm looking for. I asked you to come along because you're good at negotiating with dealers (she is) and working out the best deals - but If you're not going to cooperate and help me find what I want to find, then I'll go without you and go buy myself a fucking Jeep!' That's when she said I should untwist my panties, the dealer would sell me whatever I wanted. I told her that if this 'excellent' dealer could show me an actual SUV (like the Forester - more the type and size I'm looking for) and beat the lease price of $169 a month for a Jeep, then we'd talk and see about getting him a commission. But that $169 a month was the right price for a car that I actually wanted - so why WOULD I settle for anything other than that? Is she paying for the car? No. Is she co-signing? No. So what's the fucking problem??? Safety? A Jeep would be safer than what I'm CURRENTLY driving. They're not known to be reliable? Well, that's why I'm better off LEASING, isn't it? Repair coverage. And after the lease is up, I'd be put into a brand-new car. There's not enough time for something to go wrong with it - if something does, it's covered. As it stands right now, I'm going to the dealership in the morning - armed with my dwindling patience, my checkbook and my manipulation-proof vest - I know all too well how it's going to go. She's going to try and push those 'cars' on me again - she's going to ask (again) why I need something so big...she'll get J to 'talk some sense into me,' and J is fully prepared to put her in her place - SHE likes Jeeps, too! It's just sad that I have to be this firm with my mother - at forty years old. That she still feels the need to control me and she CANNOT just let me make choices without trying to meddle. She has two other daughters, younger than me, and who LIVE closer to her than I do. Why can't she bother them!? In closing, I will let all of you know tomorrow of the following: Whether I need bail money and where to wire it; (I'll pay you back...someday?) Whether I get a new SUV tomorrow or I end up planning to 'buy a fucking Jeep on my own;' And whether my mother is still breathing, and carrying on with her usual day-to-day annoyances...she likely will be, as no matter how angry or annoyed or irritated I can get, I could honestly never hurt a fly. My tolerance for bullshit is at an ALL TIME low with my mother, and with my ex, both of whom are tied for top pain-in-the-ass! Some days, I just don't know who's worse. When I eventually figure it out, I'll let you all know. Hoping the rest of you are having a less stressful weekend. My best to you, - Capulet
  13. Well, would ya look at that...TWO blog entries in two weeks - a good start to my promise to do some more writing/mental uploading! This entry can mostly be attributed to Oompa's prompt and not-a-moment-too-soon departure on Thursday morning - she and my stepfather were here for two nights. My father (to many: 'Lord Capulet') and his wife were ALSO in town, and since Monday, I've spend every day with one or both of my parents and their spouses - 'the steps.' Yesterday afternoon was the first time we were ALL together, and I sat at the kitchen table with my four parents, having a cup of coffee while everyone conversed about what restaurants were close by, who had a coupon for what, which establishments offered senior discounts... As for me, I didn't care. I've BEEN trying to get back on the diet wagon - so I was slowly trying to get used to the fact that it would likely NOT happen tonight. Not with the restaurant names being thrown around. My brain would adjust to the idea of one restaurant, but then they'd yell out the name of a different one. Finally, I reclined, sipped my coffee, and let them figure it out for themselves. "What about Olive Garden? I have a $5 off of $30!" "Wait, wait! Texas Roadhouse? $4 off two adult entrees!!" "Longhorns? Don't they have a fifty-five and up menu for seniors?" "I don't have a coupon for (insert less-famous local eatery here), do we want to call them and see if they're offering any early-bird specials?" I managed to get through an ENTIRE cup of coffee while they threw ideas at each other. And I'm not usually a quick coffee drinker, usually there's a small amount left in the mug when I finally dump it into the sink. My answer was the same whenever asked - 'Sure. Whatever you guys want.' I'm not sure who suggested what, but they decided on Texas Roadhouse, so we clipped the coupon and my father's wife tucked it carefully into her purse - then the next 'discussion' began. Now, it was 'what time are we leaving????' I had no idea what time we would be leaving but I knew it was, at the very least, time for a second cup of coffee. I'm not sure if I even knew what time everyone agreed on leaving my house - at this point, I was no longer really paying attention. But somehow, I caught glimpses of what my mother was NOW talking about. She started talking about the invitation on the table for my nephew and niece's dual birthday party. My nephew will be five and my niece will be turning one. My sister, in an effort to kill two birds with one stone, planned a party for both kids on a Saturday in between their month-apart birthdays. She talked a little bit about how my youngest niece 'got the short end of the stick' because both my nephew and my OTHER sister's kid had both had 'big' parties for their first birthdays. So again, I stared into my coffee while once in a while looking up and pretending to be interested in their conversation. Only, next time I did 'check in,' she was in the middle of asking my father for a favor. I didn't get all of it, but I saw, '...pick him up...' and 'on your way home, if you could drop him off...' Wait, what? I snapped back into reality. I interrupted and asked her what she was talking about. I think she'd assumed by now that I was comfortably situated in la-la land and that she'd be able to discuss this without my input. She was wrong, though, and she kind of paused, took a deep breath, and said: "Well, you know...your sister invited your uncles to the kids' birthday party in March." She might've seen the smoke beginning to shoot out of my ears, I'm sure of it, because she trailed off with, "...and she wants Uncle B to do the balloons for the kids and and they have no way of getting there...so, I thought your father could maybe give them a ride..." "Are you fucking kidding me?" I cut her off. I didn't care that I was surrounded by the four people who raised me and although Oompa has heard me swear a number of times, Lord Capulet is not used to seeing me angry. Maybe it's because around him, I'm rarely angry. My father doesn't push nor test my limits like my mother does. Well - consider them currently pushed to the maximum, because I was LIVID now. * Here is some background information, to clear up any confusion at this point - by 'my uncles,' I am referring to my mother's brother (Uncle L) and his very long time partner (Uncle B). Their relationship is as strange as it can be - they've not outwardly admitted to being gay, even after living together (in separate bedrooms) for over forty years. Uncle L is a 'priest;' (the air quotations are being used VERY loosely here) - however, he's ALWAYS been a phony and I've some VERY strong suspicions of his being guilty of a lot of wrongdoing during my childhood days. Uncle B, I believe, is his asexual domestic partner and for as long as I could remember, has had a talent for making balloon animals. Of the two, he's the more harmless, more likable, but unfortunately remains faithful to my uncle. It makes it VERY difficult to consider him family, but he is the one I will say a polite 'hello' to while I'd walk past and avoid the uncle whose blood I share like the plague. I asked Oompa to tell me again, HOW this fucking idiot got invited to a kids' party. She repeated herself. Uncle B's been asked to make the animal balloons. Yep. Got that. Uncle L would come along with him. He IS after all, blood, and wanted to see the kids for their birthday. I rolled my eyes. "He's just an old man, we'll put him on the opposite end of the room..." My mother, by now is trying to calm me down because I'm starting to lose my shit. Dad and the steps - both quiet. I went off on her. "You mean to tell me (my sister) can't hire a fucking clown that can make balloon animals that already lives in New Jersey that has his own means of transportation, isn't over seventy years old and isn't required to lug along his pet piece-of-shit wherever he goes?" "Stoppp..." my mother's WELL aware of how pissed off I am - I'm SURE she, by now was regretful of having brought this up in my company and was silently kicking herself. But I am realizing that it's even more fucked up that she would deny me this information and sooner allow me to walk into my nephew's and niece's birthday party to find THAT fucking douche-bag sitting there. Staring at me - because that's what he does, given the opportunity. His eyes are unsettling, piercing, and whenever I see him, he's looking. RIGHT at me. "I'm not coming," I finally said, "I'll send a present for each of them, but if he's there, I won't be." My father and his wife gave each other a look. My mother just sighed and asked if I'd really do that to my nephew and niece. My niece, at a year old, would be fine if Auntie Cap wasn't there, but I KNOW my nephew would be looking for me. Well, SHIT. No, I'd probably not disappoint him, if you're going to put it that way. My nephew is totes my little buddy - despite his parents, who are as fake as they come. NO, I would not do that to him, but I CANNOT be expected to be as I normally am, with HIM there. "Wait..." My father's wife finally said breaking the silence that had come over the kitchen table, "What is going on, here?" Ahhhh, that's right. I'd not told anyone about my suspicions. I'd given Oompa alternate reason for not liking Uncle L, reasons that seemingly don't fit a meltdown of this caliber. I've decided she's never going to get all of the reasons - I can't trust her. Just when I think I can TRY, she goes and pulls bullshit like this! Obviously, my mother had never shared with my father my hatred for Uncle L, either. I felt...cornered. No, this wasn't a good thing - this wasn't a good TIME. No way in hell was I getting into something I wasn't prepared for. INITIATE SHUT-DOWN SEQUENCE, I could hear my brain saying, in that robot voice. Over and over. Don't think. Don't scramble for words. Just get OUT of this! And so, I did. I was only able to say that I wanted nothing to do with him - he was a horrible person and I didn't want to be around him. My Dad and stepmother were even more confused - when asked why, Oompa proceeded in telling the story I'd been giving her for the last decade and a half. It did help that there was actually credence to these things - and surely, they're reason to dislike him but I'm sure my mother KNOWS there is more beneath the surface - and she's likely playing me at my own game - only sharing what I've been willing to share with her. Perhaps she's hoping someone else knows more and she can get more details out of them. The only one to know the entire reason is J...and although Oompa HAS tried to question J a couple of times over the years, my lovely wifey has claimed she knows nothing and is faithfully guarding that information. I hold the control that way - and I know that my secrets are safer that way, too. So, I sat back, fuming, while my father and stepmother listened, and my mother rattled off the reasons for my not liking my uncle. Here's why I don't like my uncle and why the thought of seeing him sends me into a panic, a rage. According to Oompa, of course, and now, according to Lord Capulet and his wife: He'd allowed my grandmother to live her final days in FILTH - she lived downstairs from him. There were cracks in her floors, roaches crawling up the walls, a nasty odor in the air. He'd originally fought my mother on letting her live her last days at home - he wanted to put her in a nursing home because 'he couldn't take care of her.' My mother did EVERYTHING she could to tend to my grandmother - at the time, she worked at a public school and she'd first go to my grandmother's house every day for a few hours before coming home. She arranged for an in-home aide to tend to, feed, assist my grandmother while my uncle did what he does best - nothing. When she died - he wasted NO time in 'removing' her from the house, so that he (and Uncle B) could make renovations to the entire downstairs apartment she lived in - and transform it into a church. He had a chapel upstairs but had been making plans to redo her living room into a congregation room. This man HAS no congregation - he says mass daily, or so he claimed years ago - now that he's slowly becoming senile. He (possibly with the help of his 'partner,') cheated my mother out of her inheritance. My grandmother was NOT the sharpest tool in the shed and was someone who was very easily manipulated. Somehow, Uncle B convinced my grandmother (when she first became ill) to sell HIM her half of the house - she owned half, and Uncle L already owned the other half. Uncle B bought the remaining half - for 20 grand, so now, the house was entirely theirs. A brick house in Brooklyn goes for WAY more than that - yes, the house was a DUMP - but it was still my mother's childhood home and she'd NOT been given the opportunity to purchase the house if she wanted to. They'd gone behind her back. A little work could have been put into it - some renovations, perhaps - and it would have put the value MUCH higher than what Uncle B paid. Regardless, my ailing grandmother took the money and put it away - she willed that 20K to be split among her three children upon her death - my mother, Uncle L and their sister, who predeceased them all. When she finally did pass, 'half' of THAT money now belonged to Uncle L - leaving my mother with a measly 10K - and her brother with the house and all of her earthly possessions that could be sold/distributed, etc. My mother used 'her inheritance' to pay for the funeral, leaving her with very little money and maybe a few trinkets, including my grandmother's wedding ring that she'd wanted my Mom to have, (that she'd had to fight my uncle for - there was a time he claimed he couldn't find it - she cleverly told him that since it was willed to her, she'd hold him responsible for the monetary value of the ring - he had a change of heart very shortly afterwards and told her that miraculously he 'found' it) - or he'd have pawned them for even more money to pad his own pockets. (Admittedly, my father looked shocked at this point - BOTH he and his wife did.) Sadly, this is only enough to label him as simply an unsavory, dishonest person - but sometimes I wonder if this is enough to explain why I'd say I don't want anything to do with him - I don't even mind his partner, Uncle B, too much. EVEN if he'd been dishonest with my grandmother and DID purposely cheat my mother out of what she was entitled to, I don't hate him. I just don't want Uncle L near me or my kids, I don't think he should be around my nephew and nieces - I might've said too that I didn't understand how the asshole had more lives than all five of my cats combined, death had evaded him more times than I could count. One doesn't wish death upon a miserly old man - especially one who is seemingly already paying the hefty price of his past greed - he relies on Uncle B entirely, needs 24/7 care, his knees are shot. He cannot walk, he doesn't go anywhere. He sits at home, day in and day out - and according to my mother, has forgotten names of some of his nieces and nephews - he's called my sister my name, or he's questioned my mother in reference to my sisters, "the one in the middle," or "the niece of mine who's in the medical field." My mother has said he's 'slowly' losing his mind, but if you ask me, he's never had full possession of his mind! I didn't know what pissed me off more - the whole invitation thing, or that she was asking my father to shuttle his disgusting ass to and from a party that I'm not looking forward to going to, anymore - or that she was making excuses for a piece of shit who doesn't deserve them! And my stupid, fucking sister! We've HAD conversations about our uncle before. Granted, not THE conversation - but she is WELL aware of how I feel about him. Yet she invites him to a kiddie party!? Where Uncle B, when he's not playing with fucking balloons, is going to be running around with a goddamned camera and taking pictures so that Uncle L can have them. As if the creep doesn't stare enough! I remember when my sister (this same one) got married - seeing him was unavoidable - he was at the wedding - the church part - and he had to walk past me to walk out. Uncle B was behind him and as soon as he was next to me, he whips out the camera - "Let's take a picture!!!!" Not a good place to cause a scene - my sister's special day...so I put on the fakest smile I could manage and held my breath. My daughter was standing a few feet away and I might've made up an elaborate story about how I didn't want her to mistake the holy water for a drinking fountain and walked away as soon as he'd snapped a photo. My father didn't confirm whether he would pick up Uncle B and the douche-pig and drop them back home on the day in question - but at least he's got some things to think about, now. Unfortunately, since I was in no position to fully explain my outburst, I feel that I have lost this battle and this, like my sister's wedding, will turn into another one of those 'can't be helped' situations - even though it COULD have been - if only my family had my back. It further proves that they do not, and that when it suits them, they'll not think twice about making me uncomfortable. I'll wonder if it is partially my fault, I've not exactly been straight-up with them about my suspicions - instead, I've allowed them to believe a different set of reasons for my hatred toward him. It's something I will regret having done - but at the same time, I can't imagine ever being ready to share the truth with any of them. How can I, though? I can't trust ANY of them! Anyway...it's taken me two days to get all of this out. Normally, a blog entry takes about a day, with me getting up in between writing sessions, with interruptions being frequent, with having to constantly put my writing on hold because of things that come up in 'real life.' However, reality has made itself known in ways that very few people know about right now - and I've been HIGHLY emotional. I will likely get to all of those details in a future entry, though - for it's taken me THIS long to finish THIS particular thought - THIS was put on hold by the 'other thing,' and now the other thing needs some further internalizing before I can discuss it fully and with some of my emotions still intact and without losing my mind. The short of it, though - we are losing one of our fur babies. It was a very unexpected development starting with the loss of function in both of his hind legs. He's been diagnosed with 'saddle thrombus.' Nothing can be done for him - and as he's seemingly not in pain, we have decided to let him live out his remaining days at home for as long as he's not struggling. The moment he does show that he is starting to suffer, though, we'll be taking the hours-long drive to the vet that is only 20 minutes away. As of right now, though, he cannot walk and has to be carried wherever he'd like to be, has to have his food and litter pan near him (within drag-distance) and has to be watched closely for any changes. J and I are devastated, we have spent the last couple of days crying off and on - and all of this bullshit with my mother and my uncle - seems so, very unimportant right now. I second-guessed posting this entry, too - it seems SILLY to bit*h about a party guest who might not even remember my name - when there are far more important things to be concerned with - especially when it concerns a loved one who DESERVES more 'time' than he's been given. More later. Want to release this entry before it becomes THREE days! I will be back with another update as soon as I can string together coherent thoughts on the rest of it without bursting into tears. The tear dam has already broken - it usually takes a LOT for me to be able to cry - and the last couple days have shown me that I, as much as I'd love to, cannot control the flow of tears. Hoping all of you are well. , - Capulet
  14. The first time I attempted to get this entry started, I got maybe two words typed out before my very demanding cat jumped up onto the desk, spilling my pencil holder of its contents as well as knocking my (thankfully covered) water bottle as well as other empty soda cans and nail polish bottles over. I'm telling you - when this boy wants his love and affection, he stops at absolutely nothing and often resorts to destruction! So - here is attempt number two, now that I've banished him to the other side of my bedroom door with, "my Christmas tree BETTER still be standing in the morning, Mister!" I then locked the door so he couldn't let himself in, (believe it or not, the little shit KNOWS how to open handled doors! He taught himself and has NO regard for privacy!) and am now sitting down to write. I had my second session with the Support Group Leader on Friday. I will from now on refer to her as M, it's easier. Anyway - we really didn't have time to 'go over' my assignment from our last session (the one where she wanted me to share where I thought I'd be in three years) because I walked in prepared to discuss instead what I wrote about in my LAST blog entry - my recent struggles with J's re-entrance into therapy, of her starting EMDR, of being distant, overworked and overstressed, and of the rekindling of her social life. It's what's been on my mind the most nowadays, and it felt fitting to discuss this in place of whatever the hell I might be doing in three years. Previously, we briefly got around to talking about the company J keeps - particularly her boss/friend. I've always been honest with J and told her that there's SOMETHING I can't quite put my finger on, SOMETHING about her that I don't like. I've said it until I was blue in the face. It is NOT a romantic attraction I'm fearful of. No. I trust J in every aspect, and I know that if there was any chance that she didn't want to be with me - she wouldn't be. I have tried several times to explain to her that it is simply the fact that while she and I are actively disconnecting, I am witnessing her becoming close to someone else. Although it's not on the same level, it still makes me feel (perhaps unnecessarily) threatened. And although J has always invited me into the fold and tried to include me, I've always felt reluctant and as if I didn't want to be around her boss/friend, because of these irrational thoughts. Anyway - J's sisters dropped in on Thanksgiving night. During the day on Friday, I was dealing with our cable mishap, so I was unable to join them for the trip to the nail salon (I swear, when it comes to mani-pedis, I'm probably the man in the relationship - I could care less what my nails look like as they're usually cut short for bowling purposes, and GOD HELP anyone who touches my FEET!) or for the breakfast they went and ate after that. Being as we live four hours apart, J doesn't spend a whole lot of time with her sister. So, whenever her sister comes for a visit, I am perfectly fine keeping a distance and allowing them the time and space to visit and reconnect. Whenever J goes out with her sister (a heavy drinker) there is ALWAYS music and booze involved. I am generally uncomfortable being around people who share this overtly loud and obnoxious, outgoing personality. And that Friday night after Thanksgiving, the three sisters wanted to go to a bar for a few drinks after supper and said that I should join them. I struggled with the invitation, but then I agreed to join them just for the food, but bowed out of the after-dinner bar plans. Admittedly, there is currently more revolving around my not wanting to be around J's one sister either - it has a LOT to do with what happened prior to J's radiation treatment this past summer. I am feeling that is not quite resolved - her sister had said she'd like to communicate once per week, she'd like to get to know me better, things like that. She hasn't made a single effort to communicate with me - AT ALL. And I'm all about reciprocation - I've done nothing, too. I am stubborn, yes, but I also don't feel this is mine to fix. SHE is the one who acted poorly. If I said things that weren't necessarily nice or polite, it was because I was defending myself. Anyway, I remained civil and friendly - I politely declined the second invitation to go boozing afterwards. Instead, I went straight home after the restaurant, thinking to myself, how long would it even take to get a couple drinks in? A couple hours, maybe? They didn't get home until One. Oh. Clock. In the morning. 1:00. 1am. An hour after midnight. What the fuck? Still, I figured, these are not family members J sees very often - she did move four hours away from her family so that she could share her life with me - so, that thought in mind, I remained calm when she came into the bedroom at 1am. She admitted to having a little too much to drink and that after the bar, the one outgoing sister had insisted on driving out to ANOTHER bar where there was karaoke. "I'm so glad I went," I was being sarcastic. But still asked how karaoke went. I still showed an interest, even though I wished she'd been home sooner - I felt as if I hadn't had any time with her that week, at all. She'd worked a double on Thanksgiving, then Friday the sisters were there, etc, and as it unfolded, I couldn't be with them during the first half of that day because I was waiting for the cable techie. She'd managed to get the day off work on Friday and Saturday, but still - with the added company, I wasn't feeling anything other than lonely at the moment. Anyway, she told me that the karaoke place was pretty crowded and that her sister got up there and sang and danced, she commented on how this same sister makes 'friends' wherever she goes. She talked about how they had several drinks together and that the other sister (whom I truly DO like) was the one who had driven them all home, having only had one or two drinks all night. And she waited until the VERY end to mention: "Oh and (boss/friend's name) met us at karaoke." See, I was fine until that mention. I was. I don't even think it was the fact that J was pouring alcohol into her body when she normally doesn't. It was, though, the fact that she'd NOT told me that boss/friend would be there because she knew how I'd react. She'd omitted that detail entirely, which felt like a betrayal, although a small one. When asked why she didn't think to tell me this, she confirmed it. "Because every time you hear her name, you lose your shit!" And yes, that's true. I don't even know that it's jealousy - perhaps some of it is. But at this point, I'd ALREADY explained that I was feeling disconnected from the one person I trust the most. And that I didn't like this other friend's sudden and frequent presence. Yet, J is not willing to change her friendship with boss/friend based upon these feelings I'm having, nor is she willing to slow down anything she's doing. And, so, it's me who has to change. And how the fuck I'm going to do that, remains a mystery. We bickered about this on that night, making it a very emotional and late one. I didn't sleep a wink. She had a fair amount of alcohol in her system so that did enable her to get some sleep eventually. But I was just unable to allow sleep to take over, there were simply TOO many thoughts swimming around in my head. I still remained in bed, my heart raced all night long and I recognized familiar signs of anxiety that I hadn't seen in years. This bothered me. SO much. It hit me that THIS was our first REAL argument in the decade we'd been together. See, up until now, we've ALWAYS been on the same page with pretty much everything. Yes, we've disagreed but it's NEVER felt like this before. Since that night, we've talked many times about this particular 'fight' and for the time being, we've reached an understanding. She will continue to work on herself in therapy while also enjoying her social outings after work once per week, and she will continue to maintain her friendship that she has become fond of. At the same time, she will work on being more present at home. She would like for ME to work on myself, too, and for me to continue sessions with M. She wants for me to branch out and be able to make connections with people other than her. "It's healthy," she says. I told her that was something I needed to work being able to accept - because it was so deeply ingrained into me by my ex-husband that one simply does not form close connections to another person outside of a relationship. You can have friends, but there's a line there - a boundary. Only HIS idea of healthy boundaries and HER idea are two entirely different things. Although she tries to remind me that I've been with HER longer than I have been with him, I can't help but be stuck on the simple fact that it only takes a split second to change someone's 'sight,' whether it's during one isolated moment in time that can be considered a trauma or something someone else has said to you that seemingly becomes tattooed onto your brain. In the case of my ex-husband, this is what's happened - even though I TRY not to adapt to his way of thinking, I sometimes can't help when it's something that automatically kicks in! She mentioned that she'd also like for me to get to know boss/friend and to perhaps become friendly with her. Now, this is tricky considering that right now, this woman is EVERYWHERE and it's more unsettling than not. But I did promise to try, if this is what would make her happy. We have decided that J is going to engage boss/friend into perhaps going bowling or going to ball games, or into doing anything in a setting that I can actually FOLLOW and maybe ENJOY. I have made it clear that I don't want anything to do with bars, with karaoke, with anything music-related and I refuse to be in a setting where people are just acting overall reckless. This recent fight is also something she asked me to present to M, so on Friday's appointment, I went in fully prepared to do so. I know I could have posted it here beforehand, but it didn't feel right. Plus, I am generally slow to process what is happening, even those things right in front of me. I suppose this is a place where I can gain some unbiased feedback, same as with M in session, so I am okay doing it now that I've openly discussed it with M. Plus, there WAS a moment in counseling that set off that little light bulb in the back of my head that has been dormant long enough for me to question whether it needed changing or that I'd be subject to being in the dark for the rest of my life. So, these words are all the more important to write. I did previously explain J's rising social status to M, but our last (also our first) meeting was before the argument on the day after Thanksgiving. By now, things had escalated, and I needed the time and space to address it. So we talked and, somehow - (it's weird how this happens!) - something clicked. We talked about how I didn't understand WHY I didn't like boss/friend. She isn't a bad person, the few times I have seen her, she was actually fun to be around. Yet, there was something else there. Something that, when I backtracked a bit from not liking the bar/drinking/music setting. Let's return, for a minute, back to October 4th, 1996. Some of you know this date already. It's forever etched into memory for me, as it's the night I was raped. For starters - I was not at all used to parties, or even attending one that didn't involve balloons, clowns or goodie-bags. Or a Sweet Sixteen from the previous year - I'd attended three or four for high school friends. Other than that, I wasn't a partier, and this was okay with me. Being hearing impaired usually excluded me from many invitations, but I wasn't normally one to take offense to it. It is what it is. One of the 'first' friends I made when I started college a month before the incident, was a very outgoing type of person. I'm not sure what exactly made us friends, since I didn't have this in common with her at all - but at the time, I had no reason to fear being social, either. She was the one who invited me to this party that she heard about. She convinced me to lie to my father and tell him that I was going to be spending the night at her house, following the completion of a school project that would likely take HOURS. Lord Capulet, being the trusting man he was, agreed and said, 'have a good time, just be careful!' When we arrived, she almost immediately met up with some kids that she had gone to high school with. And so, it quickly became a case of, 'see ya later, Cap!' and I was left alone. Alone, surrounded by loud music and the combined smell of alcohol and weed. It was thick, and it didn't take me very long to want to go home. When I went in search of my friend, I found her nearly topless - her shirt was opened, she was laughing it up with a bunch of surrounding horny frat guys and it was clear to me that she was heavily intoxicated. I approached her and told her that if she'd give me the keys (we arrived in her car) then I'd drive us home. She guffawed in my face (what the holy hell had she been drinking!?) and told me that she was having too much fun and wasn't ready to leave. I don't need to get into details here as I've likely already set the stage for what happened next, but the short version of it - in attempts to leave on my own, I was raped by an older partygoer in one of the bedrooms when he'd lured me inside under the pretense that he would be making a phone call for me. I ended up walking out of the party pretty much unnoticed, as everyone around me was drunk, passed out, stoned or otherwise oblivious. BECAUSE of the booze, BECAUSE of the music. BECAUSE of this very setting. So - I explained all of this to M. For her, it made sense right away - that, for the past 22 years, I have been unwittingly connecting the bar setting with the party setting - that whenever someone were to ask me to go have a drink, my automatic answer, without thinking about it, is 'hell, NO.' It doesn't matter who I'll be with, even if it's J. Even if it's someone whom I KNOW would not leave me flat. I don't mind the occasional drink of alcohol - I even have a favorite! (And if you've actually read this far, you're welcome to inquire on what it is in the comments!) I just prefer to drink at home - on MY turf, either alone with J or with my family members. Imbibing is not something I do frequently, as I also deal with that pestering guilt of ENJOYING something that indirectly caused my trauma 22 years ago. I was not intoxicated at the time - I was sober. But the person I was with was drunk (and I don't even know WHERE she was when I left!) and I'm uncertain of what my attacker had in his system, as when he approached me, he did NOT have a drink or a joint in his hand. Regardless, I automatically find myself arriving at the same place each and every time I recall this moment in my life. She was drunk. Had she not been drunk, this would NOT have happened! I didn't realize even THIS until Friday, either - but the loud, obnoxious personalities of both J's sister, as well as her boss/friend, both remind me of this particular 'friend,' (I use that term very lightly, we are not friends today) who has now made it impossible for me to look at anyone who ENJOYS heavy drinking, loud music, reckless, STUPID behavior and the bar/weed setting, etc, with anything other than loathing and disgust. I honestly don't think it's the actual person I've grown to hate - because both J's sister and the boss/friend are (if I can remove their love of the things I hate) decent people. If they were not, J wouldn't even like them at all nor would she associate with the boss/friend. I know family is family and that is a connection that is not going to change but it is true for any of her friends. I just cannot connect with these types, especially if they are not willing to try and connect with ME, either. And the way to do that, really isn't rocket science. I need to feel that someone WANTS to get to know me, someone truly is interested in learning about the person I am. I'm not getting that vibe from neither one of them. I think that what it boils down to is - this is the TYPE of person that I can't bring myself to trust, the person who would choose alcohol or drugs over my well-being and peace of mind. And not only do I not trust them, I don't find myself being able to ALLOW new people the opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy. I simply don't leave my comfort zone long enough to do this. I'm still, after 22 years, (or even longer!) living in fear of social settings, and not necessarily ONLY the ones where alcohol and loud music is included. It has been said that I am 'different' whenever I am in a group of people. I am quiet. I focus on whatever it is we're doing (whether it's a board game or a meal) and do not engage in conversation, I laugh whenever everyone else laughs so I don't look completely oblivious, and I often pray no one has asked me a question that I just responded to with a laugh. So perhaps, that's it. This was the moment when the bulb went off in session. Maybe this is why this woman's friendship with J is so bothersome to me - I wonder if I am also, deep down, fearing that this will eventually become something J enjoys, too. SHE likes music, she likes drinking with friends. She isn't into karaoke but she's in the process of evolving. What if this is something that happens later? (Not the karaoke specifically but rather, the more extroverted lifestyle?) What if this a change that is yet to happen but is in the making? This is NEVER going to be something I'm entirely okay with, no matter how much work I do on it. It's not going to erase the injustice done to me by that other 'friend.' I don't know how to fix this, either. My speed is just different. I am not opposed to having friends or making connections with people but I personally prefer 1:1 meetings for meals, coffee, shopping, something like that. I like the heart-to-heart talks - they are what strengthens a friendship. I don't mind taking in a drink or two with J and perhaps one other person, but I HAVE to be within a setting that doesn't catapult these fears to the surface. There IS one person, though, that I bowl with who is also a fan of the mixed drink. She is, though, first a bowling friend than anything else and HAS truly made the effort to know both J and I on other levels and is becoming someone I can indeed consider developing a friendship with that is both based on trust and mutual fondness. So, I guess this is progress. I did remind J last night that I needed for us to stay close to each other through this...whatever it is we're going through. No matter how irrational I've seemed lately, no matter how much of an asshole I appear to be at times when I feel threatened or otherwise rejected. I joked that maybe one morning I would wake up to a world where EVERYTHING made sense. That got a smile out of her, at least. I suppose it WAS a funny thought to entertain, even for just a moment. I'm just terrified of this type of adjustment I'm having to make, not to mention, sick and tired of being hurt, abandoned or otherwise expendable because I can't change these things about myself too easily. I'm not sure if this means there's more from what happened 22 years ago that I've got to work on - maybe it does. I've had some therapy, but maybe not enough. Maybe this is the point in time when that unfinished business has become more evident and has chosen to show up - and not politely, either - the expression 'bull in a china shop' comes to mind when I try to picture the state of my brain at the moment! The issue of abandonment is also becoming more prominent following my birthday celebration last month. (Not sure if this is even worth to mention - but J's sister did not attend my surprise 40th nor did she even care to follow up on it. She was supposed to come, but claimed that her hand was hurting following an injury - yet if the party were for J, a little hand pain would certainly have been a non-issue and she'd have been the first one to arrive. And J had also invited boss/friend to this party, too - SHE didn't come either, apparently something came up for her, too.) And then we add to that, the staggering number of long-time friends I also had not show up or follow up either - it just all succeeded at making these thoughts even more confusing and bothersome and my heart genuinely HURTS right now over ALL of it. That's it for today, I suppose. It's taken two days to get all of this written out - and yes, this is unusual for me, too. I'm normally able to hammer out one of these blog entries in a matter of a few hours, but this has taken me DAYS. Even now I'm reading and re-reading and my finger is hovering over the 'DELETE' button...I'm unsure of how much I even like myself and how I am right now, so how can I expect too many others to? The more I think about it, the more I am tempted to just click out of the tab because some of it probably seems so SILLY - but these are authentic concerns of mine and regardless of how they come across, they're things that NEED to be said. So it's time, I guess, to hit 'SEND' and be done with it. So...here goes. *pressing button* - Capulet
  15. Huh. Whadda-ya-know? I'm having a little bit of difficulty with my 'assignment.' The counselor I saw last week gave me something to ponder for the next time we were to meet (there is no appointment set, yet) and I was happy to have something to occupy my thoughts with and even more giddy when she said I could write it out! I suspect she understands the level of effectiveness writing has on me, so she was quick to encourage some 'writing homework' on my way out. I accepted the assignment, as usual, because I do like being made to think seriously about something, to be tested, to be given the opportunity to be honest with myself at the same time. I just didn't think it'd be THIS much of a challenge! We all know by now that I'm a writer. I know I'm always annoyingly pushing the idea upon others if there's an opportunity. "You should write it out," "It'll help you make sense of things if you tried to put it all down in writing." The list goes on. If you're among those I've incessantly pestered about the importance of utilizing the power of the written word, I do apologize for coming on so strongly about it. But this is something I TRULY believe in. I believe it can help...because whether you're writing for your eyes only or you're intending to eventually share the finished product, it's still the easiest way to purge some of those thoughts and ponderings that are simply too hard to verbalize. You see, writing is my biggest outlet. More than talking. More than therapy. More than beating the shit out of a pillow. It's my strongest means of communication. The majority of my communicating today is done electronically as I do not have a whole lot of in-person contact these days between the kids being either at school or at their Dad's and J working a ton of hours. I write texts, posts, emails, PMs, blog entries, MUCH easier than I can speak these words to others. But, anyway. The assignment is, "Where do I see myself in three years?" I did graciously accept this assignment when she gave it to me, thinking, 'piece of cake,' - because this is what I do, even when there are group sessions. I'm always anxious to be given something to write, so mentally, I'm all - 'let's have it....throw it at me.' Lately, though, I am finding that it hasn't been as easy as it used to be, for me to dig deep. In the group meetings, I find myself sitting and thinking while everyone around me is furiously scribbling or otherwise working on their own responses. It seemingly has gotten deeper, and there are now layers upon layers of CRAP sitting on top of it, making it even harder for me to gain access to these thoughts. I don't even know where I see myself tomorrow. Or next week. Yes, I have previously expressed some long-term plans and these are still active plans - but are going to take a little bit of time to set into motion. And because things happen in their own time, and sometimes unpredicted circumstances come into play and effectively throw some of your plans completely off track, I've always just taken it a day at a time. I've always paced myself because it made the most sense...we, after all, have to learn to crawl before we can walk, and then eventually break into a run. So, I now have to fast-forward THREE years??? (grumble, grumble.) In three years, the Son will be 21. He'll be possibly about to graduate with his 4-year degree. He might have an idea of what he wants to do with the rest of his life - which will put him in a FAR more advanced place than I was when I was his age. I was 21 when I birthed him, I'd dropped out of college and was completely clueless on where I was going with the credits I'd already earned. "I'll go back," I said to myself - and it will have taken 20 years by the time I do, but better late than never, I suppose. He has just recently introduced to me his girlfriend - a lovely young lady that he's been seeing for a few weeks, now. Perhaps in three years, he'll still be dating her - I like her a lot and personally hope she's still around. The Daughter will be 15, and in High School. I am fairly certain she will be giving me daily heart attacks. She's been applying mascara and lip gloss daily before school and she's only 12 now and smack dab in the middle of the seventh grade. I joke often that she must have gotten her love for cosmetics from her father, (who wears many different 'faces') because she sure as hell didn't get it from me! I am HOPING that in three years, her attitude will have significantly improved and that her immaturely destructive behaviors will have diminished, even just a teeeeeensy bit. For some reason, it's so much easier to envision where I see my kids in three years than where I see myself. See, if this were a test, I'd have flunked on that, alone. Fine, I'll try and shift gears and see what develops. I am positive that I will still be with my lovely J. There is no doubt in my mind that we will be still be going strong in three years. We have had our bumps and hurdles, but that's why we're BOTH striving to fix it now before it becomes a bigger problem. To call it a 'problem' in the first place is a bit of an exaggeration, actually - so - it's just bumps. In three years, I'm hoping these bumps will have been bulldozed a bit and that our path moving forward is more evened out. When the surface in front of you is flattened, it's easier to see what's ahead - whereas the bumps sometimes serve as distractions and if hit hard enough, can bounce you completely offsides. And like hitting a speed bump at 35-40mph, it can take a minute to recover from the jolt. Perhaps in three years, I will have learned that it's truly okay to be social, it's okay to let loose once in a while, it's okay to have fun and to SHOW that I'm having fun. I know I'm uptight. VERY much so. And that isn't helping me AT ALL. Maybe I will also find that I LIKE this - I can't say that's the case, yet, but it's being worked on. Maybe having started school (and probably having also graduated with my Associate's within that same three-year period) will have made it a bit easier for me to 'upgrade' from my current hermit status. I'm not by any means wanting to be a social butterfly who is never home anymore; I think that to remain somewhat of a homebody, to keep myself calm, centered and reserved with the exception of a social outing or game night with friends one or two times every week or two is something I can live with. I am far too used to keeping myself company - to the point where I like it a little too much to entirely abandon the thought. I would like to be at that comfortable halfway, in-between point where I am no longer feeling extremely lonely and I'm also not feeling the anxiety or stress of having to be around too many people at once. Again, I'm reminded of the 'baby steps' concept - maybe it will take MORE than three years to dissolve some more of that irrational anxiety. And maybe, it is what it is. Maybe if I've already acquired my Associate's, I'll have already undertaken my mission toward my Bachelor's in Social Work. And, this might be a horrible thing to say - but since it is in reference to someone that didn't necessarily treat ME well, I am trying not to feel bad about saying it. And this, too, is something I have to work at - not being so nice to people who treat me like stepped-in shit. I am too forgiving, I am too weak to fight. I do not do well with confrontation. (Adding those to my growing list of the necessary little self-improvements.) But maybe, just maybe my ex will no longer be here. The Son has already expressed his opinion on the matter. "Dad isn't well. He probably won't live past fifty." This is true. My ex is NOT healthy. So, in three years or less, maybe I'll finally be free of his influence, free of the bullshit he's ingrained in me and taught me. I wonder often if his presence, the fact that he is ALIVE, serves as an impenetrable barrier between myself and that complete freedom. Because, as stated before, we are not married anymore, but his reach has still remained a powerful constant. I find myself panicking at the thought of him being angry at me for shit that I really don't have any control over. Or, what he'll say to me next, how he'll react to anything that could be perceived as offensive to him. I would like to find that I am no longer obligated to nod my head every time he asks me if I think he's right. It never mattered if I didn't, there is still that weakened, mentally battered part of me that forces myself to agree with whatever bullshit he's currently spewing if asked. Maybe in three years, I'll have found the pair of brass balls that I'm still trying to grow when it comes to standing up for myself, my thoughts, my wants, my feelings. I am comparable to a trained animal at this point; even when an animal has been removed from the care of an abusive owner, the behaviors stick with them, forever. And sometimes, this makes them 'unadoptable.' No, I am not looking to be adopted - simply to express the disgusting gravity of this man's presence in my life. In three years, I would like for this hold over me to be dissolved; I want to NOT worry about what dire consequences any choices I make may have. I've already made a VERY small, but significant statement toward taking a tiny step away from his unwanted influence. I told him over last summer that I planned to go back to school. In part, I think I wanted him to realize - I'd quit school nearly 20 years ago because HE advised it. Yes, it was me who ultimately carried out this choice because I was tired, emotionally a wreck, and pregnant. Still, I let him convince me to put everything on hold so that I could not only focus on the Son when he was born, but also on HIS two children that he had by the wife before me. Going to school was no longer feasible - in his eyes, being an instant, just-add-water wife and mother was my life, now. This took precedence over my education - especially since I 'didn't have a plan.' He has NEVER believed in me, in what I was capable of doing. I don't think he made this connection, though. This narcissist of a man instead made the comment/suggestion that I should just bypass the back-to-school idea and apply to work at the post office because they're a government agency and they hire individuals with disabilities and that I'd likely have no problem securing work. "I don't want to work at the post office." I said to him, completely shocking myself. I said it quickly, without thinking. And normally, we do NOT speak to the wasband without carefully planning out our words; it does NOT end well if he finds he doesn't like what's been said. I think I surprised him, too, with my abrupt answer. He appeared slightly taken aback. "Oh." Was all he said. And then he shrugged, "Whatever." (What is it with that word?! "Whatever." It makes me want to punch him in the face every time he says it!) I think it's because I know that it's his 'dismissive' word. It is what he says when he is finished talking. GOD FORBID, though, I should be the one to mumble, 'whatever.' It would lead to a full-on, drawn-out fight and of course, the end result was always the same, he was right, I was wrong, and I owed HIM an apology. Perhaps in this case, the 'whatever' was a good thing - it wasn't toward me as his wife - he REALLY didn't care. In three years, I'd like to NOT feel the need to apologize to him anymore. In the meantime, I am not holding my breath for the moment he realizes how many people he's wronged and with whom HE needs to make amends. I do not even think 'I'm sorry' is in his vocabulary. I have accepted that I'll likely NEVER hear them from him - but in three years, maybe I won't give a shit anymore because he just won't be ABLE to fix the damages he's caused. Whether it's within three years, or within five or ten, all of his inflicted damage, including all of the effects, will die with him. There are probably a bunch of other things I'd like to see happen within the next three years. I will likely become an aunt 1-2 more times. I will possibly get a new car as my car has pretty much been commandeered by the Son, who uses it to commute back and forth to school. I will likely have experienced some loss - two of my cats are elderly and are on a slow decline - this, I'm NOT looking forward to, but have to always consider the balance of good and bad whenever trying to look to the future. Perhaps this is what keeps me from shattering into a million pieces when something unexpected happens. I need to prepare myself for every possible surprise, especially the unpredictable ones. I don't expect to be right about every of my 'guesses' but if I can check off even ONE positive thing as being correctly predicted, then that's, in itself, a victory. Love and light, - Capulet
  16. Hello, everyone! TWO blogs in a week???? How unusual. Or is it? Well, guess what? I did it. I did something I PROBABLY should have done years (and YEARS) ago, and joined a local support group. Firstly, let me explain something to you all. I'd always thought about joining a support group. I've always fallen victim to loneliness - ALWAYS. Being hearing impaired is only one contributor to this constant feeling of being the outsider and never quite being able to fit in, but it was further exacerbated by being told that there were limits to what I should be talking about, being made to feel that sharing was a bad thing. (Thank you, ex-asshat...uh, husband, for that) And so, previously, when faced with whether or not I should seek out a support group, I'd always decide against it because regardless of that pesky loneliness, it didn't feel safe to take that leap, yet. Joining AS was, before last night, the closest I've ever been to a support group. This was more my speed - it's a community rather than a small group, but for me, being somewhere there was an unspoken understanding among members and not having to explain myself in depth was NICE. It was even nicer that my hearing impairment didn't keep me excluded from conversations and that I could 'speak' freely without having to use my voice or show my face. Oh, and I was able to keep AS anonymous - it was another way of keeping my private life separate from the life that I share with people who aren't privy to my personal struggles. I still do this, to this day - the only person who knows about my belonging to AS is my lovely J. And, there's another thing - joining a support forum online has enabled me to THINK out my responses. Speaking live is new to me - I am a think-before-you-speak type of girl. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's not. Maybe it's the reason I leave so much out - because online, I have time to mentally (and then physically) edit what I put out there. Who knows? Either way, I've always been SO much more comfortable online but now that I'm entertaining the idea of getting involved in this line of work, I'm going to have to learn to master the concept of live, in-person communication. So an (online) search led me to join such a group. We had our first meeting yesterday evening; this particular group meets once a month. There were only three of us, including me, and a leader. (The group leader was the same very nice woman I emailed to inquire about the meetings in the first place.) This group is centered around art, although you do not have to be an artist to participate. They provide the paper, paints, crayons, markers, colored pencils and paintbrushes. You need only bring yourself and an open mind. So, first, there was a question written on the dry-erase board in the front of the room. The general idea is to answer/discuss that question and then afterwards, we are to try to use art to express further what we have just discussed. I shit you not, I sat there with a blank piece of lined paper in front of me for what seemed like forever. I was wishing for my keyboard and a monitor to magically appear in front of me, but only had my pencil available to write with. What makes my heart happy? Safe? Proud? Scared? Strong? What does my heart need? How do I look when my heart is happy/sad/everything else? Those were the questions we were given at the beginning of the meeting to ponder. I felt like I was back in school and my teacher had just given me a timed assignment - we had ten minutes to write some stuff down and I think I only managed half-assed responses, simply because of the type of thinker I am. When called upon to respond, I simply told them that I'd share my answer to the last question - the 'how-do-I-look question.' For some reason, this was something I felt I could best explain given the amount of time I had already wasted not knowing what to write for the other ones. For those, I just jotted down simple, one-word answers for the time being. I wasn't going to even share my answer to THIS question - but it just felt okay to say this much in that moment. I explained that I look the same when I am happy, sad, scared, proud or feeling strong. I've spent so much time trying to mask my true feelings. For a long time, I wasn't allowed to share when I was sad or afraid. I learned to pretend that I was fine, or if that didn't work, supply a bullshit, sometimes nonexistent reason for looking as if I were particularly 'off.' And so, to keep myself safe, I would adopt the same generic, expressionless face for everything. I was honest ONLY with the person closest to me (yep, my wifey) and even so, there was still an insatiable need to downplay my true feelings. Not because they were unimportant, because I know they WERE valid thoughts and concerns, but they were simply thoughts I didn't have enough words to back up at the time. Y'all ever see this fantastic T-shirt featuring just squares, words and Darth Vader's face in every square? Underneath each face is a word - happy, sad, cheerful, excited, frustrated, angry, proud, sleepy, confused....and there's the same exact picture of Darth Vader's face above each word. See the attachment below. As you can see, the expression is the same, it doesn't change. That's what came to mind when it comes to me - not to mention my kids (and J) tease me about my breathing sounding Vader-ish from time to time. That last bit is not the point, it's just there for your entertainment as well as motivation for me to order this damn T-shirt for myself somewhere down the line. Anyway, this is, for sure something I feel that I need to continue to work on. I know that now, I am safe to express myself truthfully with the (very few) people I trust. And lately, I've made a little bit of progress with this, too. It's been an emotional few months, to say the least. I have been able to even CRY in front of my fiancee - never before have I been able to speak about something to the point of tears rather than drop it and pull out my pre-determined face for whatever it is I'm supposed to be reacting to. I'm finding that I'm expressing myself more now than I have in the last TWENTY years. This brings me to what makes my heart proud - it took me a while, but I did that. I got to where I am, DOING what I felt I needed to do and without being properly taught the right way of expression. I self-educated - and I listened to my own heart when it came to choosing how and to whom I expressed myself honestly. I still do feel that this blog is where I'm most honest - but perhaps, one day, I will be able to do the same thing offline. And perhaps, people will TRULY be able to identify what I'm truly feeling because my face, I'm sure, will gradually soften as I become more comfortable removing that (heavy) mask. What about the rest of it, then? It isn't hard to tell you what makes me sad. I just didn't really feel comfortable getting into such a long-ass list at the meeting. But it's the same shit that makes us all sad. I don't think there's anything that I am uniquely sad over other than how long it's taken me to reach the point I'm at and all of the wasted time and potential - while I understand it, the regrets are what gets to me in the end. I'm not sad enough to let it eat away at me, though. I'm going to fucking FIX that - I'm going to make up for that lost time, if it's the last thing I do. But most of all, what makes me (and probably you, too) sad is the existence of UGLINESS in this world - people being abusive to others, not giving a damn about what their cruelty does to another person. I'm sad that people are betrayed left and right, trust is broken every day, that fear is something so easily learned. And of course, this particular type of sadness is going to exist for years and years to come - NONE of that shit is fair! What makes my heart feel safe? Ahh, this is a hard one. I think this varies from person to person but they're not asking about them, they're asking about me. I didn't write anything underneath this word at the meeting. I was literally drawing blanks...and again, reaching for the imaginary keyboard. Honestly, though? Being able to trust someone and to remove them from my imaginary list of 'toxic' people and put them on the safe list is something that isn't done often or in my case, easily. By now, I'm used to people 'disappearing' or becoming otherwise absent from my life. And so, it's become 'safe' for me to keep most people at arms' length and cease making emotional attachments right away. Not to say I don't like them - there are many, MANY people out there that I am fond of and think of as being good, honest people that I'd love to one day get to know and become good friends with. ONE DAY. But just as soon as I say that or start to feel that is possible with someone, my safety mode kicks in and all I can think about are those who have disappointed me in the past by making promises to always be there but haven't kept them. I'm well aware that people come and go from our lives, that's what happens; that's life. We find ourselves being close to a person, thinking this is a 'lifer,' only to discover that three or four years later, they've gradually drifted and moved on. Perhaps there is a pre-set time and place for people to be friends or feel close to each other...I do believe we cross paths with people who are perhaps put there for a reason by forces unknown - as fate has it, they may need us too, for that particular moment in time and for whatever reason. I'm thinking, though, maybe very few things, if any, are forever? The 'forever,' you have to work at. For that, BOTH parties have to commit and want the same thing. I've found that usually it's me who makes the effort with others. And it's not safe for me to keep doing that - when and if it doesn't work out the way I'd like or hope for it to, the hurt is real. And so, it makes me feel an added layer of security to keep an emotional distance for a little bit longer whenever I am faced with becoming friends with a new person. I suppose the above friendship issue is one thing that scares my heart. In a nutshell, what truly scares me is the loss of something I find to be a sure thing, something I TRULY cannot imagine life without. Don't get me wrong - what terrifies me the most is the idea of anything ever happening to my kids, or to J. These three people are the ONLY three I have an emotional attachment to that NOTHING can ever change. Okay - that's not entirely true - I know that there isn't a single relationship on this planet that comes with a lifetime guarantee - a better way of phrasing would be to say this is the ONE relationship I've had where I've been able to lay ALL my cards out onto the table and allow my partner to see things I've never shown anyone else...I've given her my entire heart; I've held back nothing. My kids, too - my love for them is permanent, unwavering and unconditional. They piss me off every single damn day - in one way or another. But NEVER will they 'drift' from my heart. The thought of anything ever happening to any of these three people scares the shit out of me - it's more than the idea of losing them, I truly believe I will lose myself, too, should that happen. And finally, what makes my heart happy? What, indeed? The three people mentioned above - the son, the daughter, and J. Absolutely. They all make my heart happy, despite the times they annoy or piss me off. Them being a permanent fixture in my life makes me happy - because they are safe and safety = happiness. It's never been the material things that have brought me joy - it's consistency. So, what does my heart need now that I've identified the other ways it both keeps me going and holds me back? Thinking back to last night, this was probably the hardest of all the questions. Again, I am a very deep, profound thinker; when I am asked a question, the answer I present MUST make sense to me before I attempt to clearly convey it to others. Not sure if that's an OCD thing, a Capulet thing or the way it is for everyone - I'm guessing the latter is only true for some and not for others, because this, too, is dependent on what mental problem solving methods they most frequently use. But in order for me to answer the question of what my heart needs, I had to FIRST get through the other questions. In a way, they serve as a map, a blueprint, sort of - a route to the answers. I am simply incapable of arriving at one conclusion before figuring out the prerequisite answer. It's just the way my brain works. Before I answer the 'need' question, though, I want to mention the 'art' part of the meeting - since talking about this will likely build up to a more effective means of responding to it. Since we were discussing hearts, it was suggested we draw one and surround it/fill it in, with words, other pictures, colors, whatever, to try and describe what your heart feels through your drawing. The two ladies got started right away; I guess they already had their answers. The leader did her own picture, too - but I sat there and stared at a blank page for the first 20 minutes. No - scratch that - it wasn't completely blank - I'd completed just the first step and had drawn a heart - just a plain, empty heart. Nothing inside. I suppose that wouldn't do - those who know me know that my heart is capable of so, SO much more than the emptiness that was reflected on my paper. Yet, I truly feel restricted - I don't put as much of my heart and trust out there as I know I can. I am not allowing as much INTO my heart, either - for the longest time, I've been content with what I have - it's enough for me, there was never a true desire to spread myself even further, to share myself with others and trust in others as I do J, who has been my 'lone' person for the last ten years. This has become different, now, though. My kids, I will trust with my life - but I cannot expect them to be able to see me through those things I'm trying to survive - they are not privy to that part of my life, and that's not their fault; it's simply the way I've wanted it to be. Should they ever approach me wanting to have a conversation about such things, I'll trust them with those details then. But until that happens, I am content with trusting them to become good people, to stand up for what they believe in, and to not put me in a nursing home when I start to shit myself on a daily basis. J holds my highest level of trust - there is not a single thing about me that she doesn't know. But now, she is evolving - she doesn't have a wall fortified by a padlock over her heart - she has made new friends, she is starting to enjoy social outings with people other than me, she is growing into a stronger person. Now, don't get me wrong - our relationship is by no means in danger. We're good. I just feel lately that while she's growing, I am truly stuck in that same comfort zone that I've been sitting in for the last decade and if I continue to be stuck, I will end up even more lonely in the end. A change is necessary, and it's ME that has to change. Who the fuck invented that word, anyway? Surely not someone who is content with keeping things the same forever! So, I grabbed my crayon and filled my heart with bricks and colored them red, to symbolize the wall that obstructed the way in. It was all I could think of, really - the best interpretation of my heart in its current state. There's much to be seen beyond that 'brick' wall, but that wall needs to first be torn down, little by little, piece by piece. I waited until my turn came and explained to the group that I felt that there were many things my heart needed but for a long time, I've been building and fortifying walls - my goal was to start chipping away at it so that I and others could access my fullest potential as a person. I have that picture on my desk right now - I said I was going to keep it and bring it home and when I felt I made a little progress in lowering some of these mental walls, I'd draw little cracks in it. There will eventually be no more room for 'cracks' and this wall will eventually crumble and fall. I'm going to make sure of it - this is what I hope to gain from joining a support group. So, I've determined that I need to be able to overcome my hesitation and fear of becoming emotionally invested in or attached to the newer people in my life. I need to be able to make those cracks in this wall and then work on first weakening it - (not completely demolishing it because there are certain safeguards I need to keep in place) - in order to allow others the chance to show me that they are capable of being both supporters and friends. I'm not looking for anything beyond friendship, but even that seems harder for me to find given my own personal hangups. I need to be willing to take chances on people, I'm sure there are some who doing the same. I need to open my heart to the possibility of expanding my very, VERY small circle so that there is a safety net in place - what happens if something DOES happen to my person? In doing this, I will also be making my heart stronger - I can only assume at this point that to shy away from these opportunities would have the opposite effect. So - yeah - If I get burned, I get burned. At least I'll know deep down that I tried and it was through no fault of my own. I will have to deal with the emotional fallout, yes, but then I will simply have to accept it and move on rather than stay stationary for the next decade. I NEED to explore what else makes me happy. I trust that the already existing factors will remain in place, but if I was truly content with my life as is, I would NOT be feeling as emotional as I have been as of late. That's a given. It's taken me a while to figure that out but better late than never, I guess. I also recognize that in my quest for happiness, I'll have to take risks that scare me. Perhaps they'll make me more proud in the end, once and if I've succeeded. Who knows. Either way, I see how it's all connected. It was a good question - it didn't seem like it at first - it was almost too loaded. Lots of things make me happy, lots of things make me sad, scared, strong. I guess it's easy to put down what's obvious without giving it an excessive amount of thought, but that's just not who I am. And lastly, I need all the help I can get. I'm not usually one to ask for it, but perhaps I should start effectively expressing to others what I need. I'm rediscovering and re-training that little voice within that, in the past, was denied the requested help and support. I recognize this as being the reason I stopped asking for help, I stopped reaching out, stopped offering my own support. This accomplishes nothing, friends - nothing! I've already started picking away at this wall covering my heart. I've been at it for months already, I wanna say - it's not been easy but there are some small cracks beginning to form. So, I'm getting somewhere. Slowly, but surely. So, hey, grab a mallet. Help me make some more cracks. Maybe we can help each other through this daunting part of the healing process? Isn't that what the point of it all even is? Isn't that what I needed from the start?? Maybe instead of building and fortifying walls, we should start being more openly focused with communicating (both with ourselves and with others) what our hearts need? Until next time. Hoping you're all well. Sending and a just because it makes me smile. - Capulet
  17. I've been quiet for the past week. I'm sorry, guys. After my last entry, I've had a lot to think about. That incredibly annoying voice in my head is back, and even though I'm deaf, I can still hear it. There's a hamster, that although is cute in a little hairy rodent sort of way, is CONSTANTLY running in his little wheel situated in the middle of my brain...every time the wheel turns, a new question, thought, memory, WHATEVER, is thrown into the fray and is resulting in less of that thing that normal people refer to as 'sleep' and more of those not-so-wonderful headaches. I did just buy a BIG ASS jar of Advil for those, though. It's just been a week of realizations...I suppose these can be both good and bad. Good because it's a sense of understanding that perhaps wasn't so clear before - and bad because well, really - who wants these new truths to exist? Guys, I promise this is NOT a blog entry having to do with weight-loss. It is, but it isn't. I won't be discussing numbers or food; I did give my word that I wouldn't be blogging about diet as it's a sensitive subject to some and I don't wish to unintentionally promote poor body image. But there IS something new that I'm realizing in regards to myself - and it sort of applies, it 'fits' and I'm pretty sure that it's one of those things that pop up when something else does - whether intentional or not. Very much like when A pops up, then it makes you think about B, C, and D. There's a lot of that happening with me lately. And I feel that I need to cleanse myself a little by admitting something to you all that I've been struggling to share - I'll explain further why at the end of this post, but here goes. But, first, a couple of 'background stories.' This one is from back when I was a child, aged 11. I remember it very clearly, though it was a lifetime and a half ago. Setting the scene a little. It was my cousin's birthday. My father's sister's son was turning 8. And my aunt, a single mother, was having a family gathering for his birthday at her house. She boiled up a pot of hot dogs and served them to all the kids - mostly, it was just the rest of my cousins and maybe one or two of the birthday boy's friends from school. Anyway - I ate my hot dog rather quickly, having been hungry. I brought my plate over to the stove and asked my aunt for another. There were plenty in the pot. Some of the other kids were already chomping on seconds. "You don't need another one," she said to me, "That's why you're so fat." I didn't argue with her. I remember there being a slight pause as my stomach somersaulted. Instead of responding with, "I'm hungry," I simply put my paper plate in the trash and went to sit next to my grandmother on the couch. When they had cake, a piece was offered to me and I declined. I remember looking at myself in the mirror later that night and deciding that my aunt was right - I was fat. 11 years old and fat. And I didn't know it then, nor understand it - but that is absolutely NOT what an adult tells a child. When a child is hungry, you feed them. No questions asked. You simply don't make a kid feel as if there's something wrong with them for being hungry. That is completely and totally un-fucking-acceptable. And I often picture myself standing next to that 11-year-old version of myself asking for another frankfurter, so that when told I was fat, I could THEN respond to my aunt in a manner that would have impacted her as much as her statement to me at 11 years old had. Of course, I know this is not in any way realistic. It does please me, (although only slightly because of that 'nice person' I am) that my aunt is a miserable old lady now, with very few friends who can tolerate her endless criticism. She's lonely, she's realizing that she's not as liked as she thought she was. Now, let's fast-forward a few years. Now I am married to the wasband and I am raising three children. We have our son, who was a toddler, and then we have his two older children that I'd raised since they were ages four and two. By now, I'd already been through my fair share of weight fluctuations. The short version - I was 'pudgy' throughout high school. Not fat. Pudgy. Then in college, my SA occurred about a month into Freshman classes - after that, I dropped a bunch of weight due to loss of appetite and actually looked good for a while. Then I married the wasband, became "comfortable" with eating and gained a bunch of weight after the Son was born. Motherhood took an enormous toll on me - I was still young...21, 22, 23 years old and raising three kids. I honestly don't know how I did it, a lot of it was on autopilot mode - or perhaps it was because I felt I had so much to prove to the wasband...and to everyone else who was telling me (even if non-verbally) that I couldn't do it. I'm not going to lie...it WAS stressful. I was home during the day with the Son, who cried and cried and CRIED, I couldn't even clean the apartment without putting him in the Snuggli so that I could hold him while I did laundry, dishes, floors, whatever. Then, the older kids would need to be dropped off/picked up from school, and that was me, too. Whenever one of them got sick, it was also me to take them to doctors, pharmacies, all with a colicky infant in tow. Now, we'll top all of that off with the 'in the background' stuff - my r*pe having occurred as recently as 5-7 years prior to that - it wasn't as 'fresh,' but it still indeed bothered me - I still had nightmares, I still cried on the bathroom floor during the few opportune moments I was alone, simply because my husband was a VERY firm believer in 'what is in the past, belongs in the past....and in the past it should stay.' These were the 'suppressing' years; he'd ask how i was doing, I'd say, I was fine. And for a while, I believed it. At the same time, I ate because I was stressed out, I sought comfort within food. And that resulted in me being at my heaviest. The wasband was not kind to me. He would tell me I was fat, I was unattractive. He would point out other women he found attractive. He'd ask in front of the kids, "what does your fat ass want to eat tonight?" I'd shrug. I felt horrible, ashamed, unimportant. But at the same time, he wasn't wrong. I WAS eating unhealthily, I WAS overweight. I DID let myself go. I mean, I couldn't have it all - what I really needed was love, support and a little bit of understanding and when there was very little of that available to me, I had instead given in to bad eating habits. So, after he'd called me fat for the umpteenth time, I went on a diet. I was successful and lost a bunch of weight. Got myself back to where I was before the Son was born. And so, here is story number two, now that I've set THAT scene: We were at the mall, the wasband and I - meeting up with some friends. Another couple that we knew - while our sons were at soccer practice, we'd gone to the food court in the mall for lunch. He bought himself and me these enormous chicken parm rolls from the pizza place. I'd already lost a fair amount of weight and could only eat a couple of bites of mine before feeling full. And the wasband, in front of these people that we barely even knew, pointed out that I'd hardly touched my lunch and commented that I was starving myself. I honestly wasn't; I just wasn't hungry at the time. Even if I WAS being mindful about how much I'd eat, it was still NOT the time nor place for him to make such a comment...and certainly not something you do in front of other people. He then told me that he wanted me to eat every single bite of this way-too-big chicken parm roll, it'd be good to get some meat on me - I was both confused and mortified. I mean - you're going to tell me how fat I am and then when I lose the weight, I'm starving myself? Just what the hell do you even want from me? I did want to ask him this at the time, but I didn't. At the time, I just forced a smile at these people and fumbling for an excuse, said that the food didn't taste right. I had it wrapped and fed it to the kids later on that evening. He wasn't happy with me, but I don't think I cared enough at the time to discuss it. I just felt even more like a failure. Nothing I ever did was right or pleased him. It would only be a few more years we'd be married at this point - but this was shortly before I became pregnant with my daughter. So now I have shared a story from when I wanted food and a story for when I didn't. Both times, I was made to feel ashamed for what I wanted. Hopefully, I have successfully painted a little bit of a clearer picture of why I am so conflicted with diets or even the topic of weight. Why, in addition to everything else that's wrong in my life, I can add 'eating disordered' to my list of problems. See, I always knew this about myself. I always blamed genetics because it was easier to do so - my mother's side is big-boned, my father's side is not. I could be either way - I do think that while my mother CONSTANTLY struggles with weight, I tend to have better luck than she with diets in general - possibly thanks to Dad's genes. This, though, I don't have a name for. I'm definitely not bulimic; I do not force myself to purge what I've eaten. I do not think I am anorexic - I DO eat, although I do limit food intake at times because I'm fearful of becoming the 'fat' person again or the 'unattractive' one, which is indeed a characteristic of the disorder. I've never dropped enough weight where hospitalization was necessary. I just don't want to be seen this way anymore - I was seen as fat when I was a child and chastised for wanting more food. By a family member. Then I was seen as fat/unattractive by the man I married - when the one you marry is supposed to love every single thing about you - even the extra pounds, should there be any. See, when something is ingrained in you from an early age, you sometimes don't realize it's not the proper way of looking at it until MUCH later, when the damage is already done and the scars are deeper than you thought they were. Is there even a correct name for this issue of mine? Or is 'eating disordered' it, even though it's a pretty broad description? Anyway - I couldn't help LOSING MY SHIT when last week, I got on the scale and three pounds of bloat showed up in big, bright, red, digital numbers. I'd GAINED three pounds. WHY? What the hell had I DONE to gain three pounds in seven days?! I certainly hadn't overdone it - not three pounds' worth, anyway. I'm currently on a mission to return to a healthy weight - and TRUST me on this - there is still a ways to go before I'm there. I've made progress. I DO feel better. I'm in a committed, healthy relationship with a supportive woman who loves me no matter what the numbers on the scale say. She certainly has NEVER made me feel badly for my weight although I HAVE fluctuated a couple times in the nearly ten years we're together. She's celebrated my accomplishments with me as I'm on my way back down to a healthy weight, after discovering earlier this year that I was at my all-time high. I'd gotten comfortable AGAIN, I'd let myself go, AGAIN. And it was because no one was telling me what was wrong with me anymore - I was genuinely happy. When someone is happy, it's very easy to carelessly slip back into old habits simply because no one is putting you down for that extra helping of food you helped yourself to. And it all adds up and has a way of catching up to you. And so, this is a little different. I realized for the first time, that being at this weight was unacceptable to ME - before it was unacceptable to anyone else. And the decision to fix it was made solely by me, completely unaided by anyone else. Yet, when that three pounds showed up, ALL I could hear in my head was how fat I was, how I'd ALWAYS be what others already saw me as. All I could feel was failure. And a soreness in my big toe after kicking the scale across the bathroom floor. I swore up and down, left and right, I was ready to break down and CRY. The only reason I didn't is because I had plans to take the Son to an appointment. I no longer wanted to go to this appointment - I wanted to literally run until that three pounds was GONE, even if I had to sweat it out. All these unreasonable ways of removing that ridiculous THREE POUNDS were running through my head - I found myself thinking that I needed to skip a meal or two, I needed to do BETTER than this. I saw the ex's disgusted face, I heard him belittle me over and over. And for a fraction of a minute, I believed it. I'd failed. I'd screwed up. And then - two days later, I'd discover that it's my time of the month; the bloat was simply my body's way of prepping for my impending menses. And so, that episode in the bathroom? Completely uncalled for. How stupid do you want to guess I felt, then? PRETTY silly, I'll say - I have already apologized to the scale and to myself - but I will not apologize for WHY I am this way. It's not my apology to make, but it IS my responsibility to recognize the reasons for my flawed thinking. So what am I realizing other than I'm eating disordered through no fault of my own? (If there's no name for this, then it's perhaps acceptable to leave it at this...) I'm realizing that as I heal, as I progress further and further into an understanding of the complex mess that is myself, I am able to better delegate blame for these things, and place it where it belongs. The weight issues - definitely started by my aunt, whose intention was probably not to cause permanent damage, but instead to exercise tough love. Definitely not the best way to go about that, though. And then, it was further exacerbated by the domestic violence by the wasband, who seemingly makes a career out of being hurtful toward people whom he's supposed to be kindest to...his emotional, verbal and mental abuse certainly played a role. It does help, though, to sit here and attempt to make sense of my thoughts by writing them out - it's the same thing I would be doing in therapy, honestly. And I've covered all my W's. Who? What? Where/when? And of course, the most important of them all: WHY? I guess while I've given it all my best guess as far as the 'why' goes. My whys. I don't think I'm capable of understanding THEIR whys. I suppose that's a good thing, though. I don't wish to understand why people do horrible things to others and make them feel as if they're anything less than valuable. It isn't something I'd ever do to another. I think the problem is this - because of THEM, I still do it to myself. I guess I just want to feel that I'm doing this the right way, that my feelings are normal. I don't expect all of them to be - surely many are understandably influenced by repeatedly being abused - but I also feel that it's important to divulge that this weight loss journey is by no means without struggle. I HAVE had success, do not get me wrong. I just feel that some of it is because I'm too hard on myself, and some of my methods are a result of being fanatical rather than relaxed. I simply don't know how else to be. I don't know how else to shrug off a couple pounds' gain as being no big deal rather than break down and become obsessed with taking it back off immediately. I'm feeling the need to own these things, for to admit is to recognize the problem. Thanks for listening, if you've made it this far. And of course, for allowing me to (try to) make sense of why I am this way, even if it's just to myself for now. I will try and come back in a few days with another entry...perhaps something a little lighter next time. I welcome any and all comments, but please - do not post them here. I feel that PMs are likely the best place to send feedback on this matter. Good night, all. - Capulet
  18. It would appear that I have two sides. Two faces. There are currently two versions of me - and while it’s been suggested/confirmed that I do/have suffer(ed) from a personality disorder involving multiple other versions, these additional ‘parts’ have become silent and have grown otherwise dormant at the very least. Now I am currently faced with just two opposing sides of myself that are currently attempting to form a coherent connection. Or rather, to integrate, if that description even fits better. Furthermore, I am wondering if it's more of a one-sided effort on the part of the adult version of myself. I'll explain this further, don't worry. I've recently shared the information that I'm about to discuss in this entry...and I know in the past, I've shared other bits and pieces of what I recall about childhood, but my thought process is CONSTANT, (imagine the hamster in his wheel, it's always going and going and GOING) and I'm always searching for alternate perspectives on the same matter. It's mostly so that I can understand on more levels, even if others have difficulty following. I need to thoroughly investigate these things, and by writing/posting and re-reading what I've put down, this affords me the ability to both gain perspective from outside parties as well as to have it available to me to refer back to when I finally hit that brick wall that is repeatedly thrown into my path toward understanding myself as a whole. So, who am I? When I say I am two-faced, I am not referring to the negative version of the term, which is most commonly described as being the type of person who would smile at you one moment and then stab you in the back as soon as it was turned. No. This isn’t me. I know that and you all, I’m hoping, know this too. I am kind, I am caring, I am loyal and I am compassionate. This, I know for a fact - I couldn’t intentionally hurt another person. I have killed before but my victims are primarily of the eight-legged variety and it’s usually done by way of a shoe or rolled-up newspaper - even so, if it’s within my capacity to do so, I’d sooner scoop them up and toss the spiders outside. But that’s pretty much the extent of the harm I could cause another living soul. I’m more inclined to help someone else if I can - especially in situations where the pain they are enduring is a common, familiar one. My conflict is with myself, basically. The much younger, child version of myself that is flat-out REFUSING to share with her older self what she knows/has been hiding for years. You see, these are two equally as powerful forces, despite the age difference - the adult is stronger in the sense that she’s already gone through a fair amount of healing. She understands the effects of sexual assault, whether it’s a constant thing or a one-time thing. She has facts to support her memories, she has a deep, accurate understanding of the aftermath, of the emotional roller-coaster that we, as survivors, are forced to ride. And then there is the child, who although she’s young and without the same level of understanding, she’s been working hard at being an impenetrable fortress of information; she’s managed to keep in place these enormous shields - and to keep them there for thirty-five years, give or take. She’s effectively locked away and kept things from people around her, from her parents, from her teachers, from psychiatrists, from friends, and even from her adult version, the single person she could likely trust the most, but still isn’t willing provide the key to at the moment. And for this great amount of time, she's stood her ground - doing whatever it was she needed to do in order to protect this information from whomever she felt the need to fortify it from. The right-now Capulet is whom you’re all familiar with. This is who you see, who you talk to, whom some of you converse with regularly. What you see is what you get. Right-now Capulet was raped at the age of 17. She can give you accurate details about that - for she remembers every single moment of that night where her world was shattered and everything came crashing down, every minute she laid on that cold, wooden floor, every second that took seemingly longer to pass than a mere second. She can tell you how that floor smelled, what was on the computer screen, she can tell you of the rusty barbells that were also on the floor, just out of her reach, and how she’d briefly considered using one to fend off her attacker. She can tell you how helpless, how defenseless she felt when she couldn't. And furthermore, she can tell you how this single event has absolutely everything to do with the person she’s become, nearly 22 years later. She is still more comfortable conversing online than she is in an in-person social setting, but is open to working on learning how to get through these hurdles in the near future. A lot of right-now Capulet's struggles are a culmination of being hearing impaired (especially the socially awkwardness) and having been sexually assaulted as a teenager, then dealing with a number of abusive situations on top of this - it all adds up. And then we’ve got the small child Capulet who, while she’s done a VERY good job of blocking out details that she knows are true, she’s had moments of weakness - evident only because the adult version has managed to obtain tiny little snippets and fragments that somehow seeped through these shields - perhaps they’re not untraversable as we originally thought they were. Or perhaps, throughout the years, they have weakened some or have otherwise lost some of its original strength, comparable to expired medicine. Either way, right-now Capulet is aware and further convinced of there being something of importance behind these shields. She knows it's likely ugly and thus the reason for these shields being there in the first place. Yet, she struggles with an insatiable need to know the truth, no matter how grisly it is and how damaging this information has the potential to be. Why, though? Aren't I doing well enough without these added bits and pieces to my already overflowing plate? I'll attempt to explain this before wrapping up this entry - been working on it for HOURS, already - my brain hurts. Thinking I'll go to Dunkin' for an iced latte. Or maybe not because it's raining and I don't desire to leave my house this morning. Either way, I'm rewarding myself with something sweet, something sugary, once I've posted this. I fucking deserve it, don't I? But anyway, here goes. I think that these little fragments - these little memory snippets that I can't make sense of right now, are pointing to something that although I'm without evidence, I can't completely ignore, either. Just as I couldn't overlook these signs if I saw them in someone else, particularly a child. These snippets/fragmented pieces that I AM privy to, are strong ones. Kind of while piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, you have to complete the outside border, first. I would say I have a fair amount of that border in place, but nothing in the middle. It's a whole lot of emptiness. Each of these broken memories I possess is a a piece here, a piece in the other corner over there, a piece in the middle of the bottom...etc. While they're different pieces in different locations, they're all a part of whatever the finished picture turns out to be. So right-now Capulet is sitting at the table, trying to get this puzzle completed. Small-child Capulet is not supplying the missing pieces, and although I've tried bribing her with the things I KNOW she loves, I've gotten nowhere in the acquisition of said pieces. Instead, it's 'HELLO, brick wall!' This kid has major skills, let me tell you. I've been at this puzzle for a long time, now, and have gotten nowhere. Another thing I struggle with that is likely contributing to my desire to get to the bottom of it all - I also want to know...(no, I NEED to know) - if anything having occurred in my childhood led to what I'd later on endure as a teenager - what kind of shaping/forming/grooming took place at such a young age? What happened to small-child Capulet that caused her to lock up and hold onto the key for a lifetime afterwards? And all of this is likely stuff that a therapist would get giddy over and likely see an opportunity for some major dollar signs. “Come to my office and we'll figure it out, we'll get some answers!” I’m sure they’d say in response to this blog, should they come across it. And I've actually just pictured the face of my old T...followed by a brief image of her clapping her hands. She used to clap in order to get my attention as a child. I remember not liking to look at her sometimes, and so she'd 'clap' or gently rap on the tabletop to get my attention so that she could speak to me. But sadly, I’m not in a comfortable enough financial situation to seek out a GOOD therapist. I've had the same aforementioned therapist twice. She met the small child version of me when I was approximately eight years old, as well as the adult version when I sought her out about ten years ago and I was going through a divorce. Both times, she's failed. I likely wouldn't have considered going to see her ten years ago, knowing she wasn't successful in breaching small child's walls, but I'd hoped that she had some memory or input that she could share with the adult version. She either did know some things that she wasn't comfortable sharing right away and maybe wanted me to work up to remembering at a slower pace rather than just dump all of this information on my already mounting reasons for concern, (and for this reason, I agreed to continued weekly sessions) OR she truly knew nothing - either way, I had some issues stemming from the dissolution of my marriage that she WAS in a small way, helpful with. But for these deeper, more pressing issues, she was proven ineffective and not helpful and I felt as if I was wasting money. And so, I stopped visiting her altogether. I still do have her email address and I've considered sharing some of my recent writings with her - just in case she does know something - but then again, maybe it's best that I not do so. She's one of those who would ask me to come in for a session and I don't feel I should have to pay for this information. And now, here I am. With the same concerns. Minus the marital problems - my current relationship is healthy, secure and wonderful - no complaints there. As far as I’m concerned, I AM my own therapist. Anything we’d do in a T’s office, I’m perfectly capable of doing on my own. I talk, sometimes too much. I write. Also too much at times. I think. If it helps me, who's to say that's a bad thing? I spend entirely too much time thinking, I believe that too, has been confirmed. However, none of these are unhealthy ways of coping. They're just what works for me. I also want it to be known that I am NOT in crisis. All this is just stuff that until recently, I’ve kept in the furthest confines, the deepest corners of my mental health closet - and I've recently come to open up this closet and begin searching for deeper meanings to these two sides...one side who wants to know everything and the other who wants to keep things suppressed and hidden. How do you get these two sides to work together? Is there some way to reach a compromise? What does small-child Capulet need, and from whom if not from the older, more knowledgeable version of herself?? I'm not sure anyone knows the answer to this, either. And so, I'm not sure who is going to win this ongoing tug-of-war battle. The adult will pull and pull, and ultimately grow weary and tired. Then the small child, who's got a comparable amount of strength, will pull back, by way of solidifying these shields until SHE'S tired or otherwise feels safe. This game may go on for several more years. Possibly for the rest of my life. While it's way easy to look up cheat codes for some of the console games I play, this isn't something I can search for a shortcut on, there are no guides that I can follow, no secret twists and turns or jumps that will catapult me onto the other side of those shields. I'm stuck on this level and I'm not seeing a way to get through it. And for that reason, I feel defeated. And now, I'm going for that coffee, even if I make a cup in the kitchen. Not feeling Dunkin'. - Capulet
  19. ***Please skip this if you're generally uncomfortable with talk of periods, bleeding, medical procedures involving the female reproductive system. I'm trying to make this mild and non-triggering but you just never know. So proceed with caution!*** Okay, guys, I'm nervous. Ain't gonna lie, I'm seriously trying to swallow the lump in the back of my throat, with my new doctor's name on it. If the roles were reversed, I'd probably be the one saying, "it'll be all right, it's gonna be uncomfortable for a few minutes, but then it'll be over with...your health is more important than being nervous or scared for a little while..." But when it comes to applying these pearls of wisdom to myself, it's an entirely different ball game. I don't want to get into extreme detail about my female woes; some of these details are just plain disgusting, so in summary - when I have a regular period, it's not pretty. Not that monthly menses ever is, but mine are absolutely ridiculous. And since having my children, they seemingly became worse. And so when my daughter was young, I consulted with a local 'vagician' (we may thank my darling daughter for this alternate, creative term for a gynecologist - it's seemingly stuck and I now refer to these doctors as 'vagicians' only) and she put me on birth control. Obviously, my reasons for being on BC is NOT to prevent pregnancy, as for the last ten years, I've had relations with only a female and I'm not worried about conceiving. My reasons for starting the pill was to regulate/control monthly periods. And for the last several years (I want to say five or six years) the pill I was taking daily was working BEAUTIFULLY. I wasn't HAVING a period. I'd take this DELIGHTFUL little white pill every day and I spent more on the prescription than I did on Tampax. And my GOD, it was the best, BEST thing, EVER... But I ran into a birth-control snafu last year. Almost exactly a year ago, in fact, right smack in the middle of my move from New York to Pennsylvania. In the midst of the move, I forgot to take a pill. It might have happened twice. This wouldn't be the first time I've forgotten to take a pill, but it was the most unforgiving, indeed. I tried to get back on track, but since messing up once or twice, I began to experience spotting. This wasn't the once a week kind of spotting - this was more like every single fucking DAY kind of spotting. It increased with activity, too. Then, when I thought it had stopped, it would start again within a day or two. I couldn't catch a break...this went on for literally months. And to top it off, I wasn't near my regular vagician anymore. And my insurance was no longer the same, and we were in the process of changing everything over....and I didn't have a CLUE where to go in my new surroundings. I kept telling myself - it'll correct itself...just give it time... When it continued, I stopped taking the pills, thinking that maybe my body needed a 'reset.' I had enough for the next six months, and so I threw away the "pill wheel" I was working on at the moment and planned to start again at the start of my next period two months ahead - I'd allow my body to have a normal (abnormal) cycle, then I'd start taking the BC the following month. Hopefully I'd get things 'fixed.' My spotting stopped. EVERYTHING stopped. I got a regular period a month later and was reminded once again, WHY I became so reliant on these BC pills. Still, knowing that I'd go back to my pill-taking regimen that I knew would eventually control it, I endured it. I loathed every minute of it, I envisioned throwing my uterus, my cervix, my fallopian tubes, everything involved in the female reproductive system, out the window - what the hell did I need 'em for, anyway???? I'm almost 40, I'm DONE with baby making. I don't need my eggs anymore. I could sell them. I'd donate them if I could. But I certainly don't need one released every month anymore, there's NO way they're going to ever be fertilized. So I grumpily went through that time of month, every single day swearing up and down every time I went to the bathroom to remove and replace a saturated tampon. The first couple days of a period (while not on BC) are usually crampy in general - days 2-4 are the heaviest and then it will taper off on the fourth or fifth day. Usually. The following month came along. I started the pills again on day one. Of course, I had another ridiculous period but this was to be expected. It lasted the usual 4-5 days. And now because my body had to become re-acquainted with these pills, the spotting was back. But upon looking up the side effects of this medication, I knew to expect that, especially for the first few weeks. But then the weeks became months. I'd been waiting patiently for my body to 'take' to the pills again, I hadn't forgotten to take any, I'd been taking them every morning. Yet, the spotting never stopped. And, again, with increased physical activity, came increased spotting. Again, I felt that I couldn't catch a break. My uterus hated me and I didn't know why. My J had been saying for weeks already, "I think it's time to get checked out." I'd been saying, "yeah, it'll correct itself, that's what it says online!" But deep down, I knew it probably wouldn't, it would have already if it was ever going to. So, this prompted my visit to the vagician two Mondays ago. J made me the appointment and although I didn't want to go, I begrudgingly went. Although I understand that at this point, something had to give. Prior to visiting this new doctor, I once again stopped taking the pills and discarded whatever was left in that month's supply - since I knew that stopping was likely the only way to stop the spotting. And it did. Leads me to believe that the pills simply aren't working for me anymore. Or something else is going on with me that is causing these pills to be obsolete. The doctor gave me my (two years' overdue) pap, did the breast exam...we then discussed the pills I'd been taking and he suggested the depo shot - once every three months...won't have to remember to take any pills, I will just have to remember to go in every three months for a new shot. Which I'll gladly do if it helps manage the monthly discomfort. "I'd also like to send you for bloodwork." He said, "Just to make sure your hormone levels are okay and if the shot is indeed the best option for you." "Sure." (Now I'm NOT good at bloodwork in general - that's another blog for another day - but in short, needles being anywhere in my inner elbow makes me panic, my BP to spike and overall, I lose my shit...I instead direct the phlebotomist to the back of my hand where my level of anxiety over bloodwork is usually lessened - and if they can, they'll oblige.) "And I'd also like to schedule a mammogram..." I knew this was coming. Bring on the 40's, bring on the obligatory booby-squishies every year. This isn't as invasive as having paps, though, on a scale of 1-10, ten being the most uncomfortable, I'd put annual mammos at number four and paps at a nine. "Yep." I've got a cousin who DIED at age 41 due to breast cancer. So this is something I KNOW I'm not going to fuck around with. So the mammogram appointment wasn't as concerning as what he'd want next. "Okay, and then I'd like a trans-vaginal ultrasound...to check for fibroids." Hooooold the phone...what?? I must have looked at him funny because he further explained that in order to confirm that the depo shots were the best form of BC, he had to run some tests and make sure that my abnormal periods (when I had them) were not being caused by any other condition. I guess that made sense. I left the office. Went straight to the lab, got my blood drawn from the back of my hand, as requested. Check!!! Then the radiology building was across the way - dropped in over there, made appointments for the ultrasound and the mammogram for later on that week. Check! I went home feeling, gee, I accomplished a lot in one day - it was a nice feeling. For a little while. I then spent the next few days dreading the ultrasound and wanting it over with. The ultrasound and mammogram were scheduled as back-to-back appointments and so they too would be dealt with in one combined visit. I agonized over the ultrasound more, naturally, mostly because of the location of this particular test, as well as it being an internal exam to boot. Surprisingly, when the day came for the mammogram and ultrasound, I would discover that although the ultrasound is indeed a bit invasive, it was NOT as uncomfortable as the pap I'd had in the doctor's office. The technician was a female. She gave me a sheet to cover myself with and treated me with professionalism, respect and considering the nature of the test she was about to perform, her demeanor was overall calming. I needed this. I'd put the Ultrasound at a six or seven, based on this. Went home proud of myself for having done everything asked of me at this point. All done!!!!! And I'd managed to deal with it all, process it all, as well as bring myself to these appointments without having to be dragged - may not seem as big an accomplishment to most, but for me, it's big. I've been told I need to follow up with my primary care doctor because my BP was found to be 'elevated' (gee, I wonder why) and I'm also due for a regular wellness check with a new doctor - one that I do have as appointed by insurance company, but also one I've not met yet. Later, though. This isn't a priority right now. It SHOULD be, yes, but it's not. A dentist visit is also on the horizon - and the same situation applies - I don't have one of those, either! I'm pretty sure I'm going to get scolded for the shape my teeth are in and the fact that I've not had a cleaning in five years. I don't do very well with the dentist, either but I'm guessing this is common among survivors and non-survivors alone. It's something I'll work on, eventually, I guess....but the best way for me to deal with these medical things is one at a time. Piece by piece. Little by little. And apparently, the vagician is not finished with me, yet. He called on the same day I had my ultrasound...several hours later, in fact. J spoke to him on the phone, there was a lot of 'okay, so when can she come in for that?' as well as other things that ultimately meant to me that we weren't as finished as I thought I was. J hung up and then told me that he had called to say that the results didn't show any existing conditions (which is a good thing) but he still would like to determine why I have abnormal periods and rule out endometriosis as well as a couple other things that I really didn't care enough to ask for clarification on. I'm stuck on what he said first - he now wants to do a biopsy/DNC before I get my next period as a final test prior to prescribing the depo shot, which would need to be administered on the day my next menses begins. I'd likely feel some period-like cramps and some discomfort for a few days after the procedure, but he'd be able to run some further tests... ...a biopsy. I don't even like THAT word. A sample..?? Fine. A specimen? Ehhh, that's fine too. A BIOPSY??? Are you TRYING to give me a heart attack or is that a natural reaction to the word for everyone else too?? "Oh, hell, no," was the first thing I said when J finished relaying the message to me. J's saying she'll go with me and hold my hand through this but even so...what? Why can't you just go by what you're seeing in the bloodwork, the ultrasound and just give me the stupid shots???? I know what a DNC is and I don't want that shit, I don't want to relinquish a piece of my uterine lining, my cervix, I want it all to stay where it is and where the good Lord intended for it all to be. I did the bloodwork they asked for...that came back fine. I did the mammogram, which although uncomfortable, I knew was necessary. And then I did the trans-vaginal ultrasound which came back showing nothing concerning. Why can't we leave me alone, now???? So while I went to the first appointment on my own and to the lab on my own and finally to the mammogram and ultrasound on my own, this is increasingly becoming an appointment I have to be dragged to. And J is willing to do that, for she's more worried about this shit than I am. The appointment is currently set for next Tuesday, but we realized that J has to work on next Tuesday and likely wouldn't be able to make sure I show up at the doctor's office to have this procedure done. She knows as well as I do that I'm more likely to say, 'screw it...I'm not coming." And so she asked me last night for the doctor's phone number - she would reschedule for three days later - for Friday next week, since that's her day off. And she'd go with me and we'd go to lunch afterwards. It all sounds great but I'm stuck on what the procedure entails, I can't see past that right now. So after I moaned and groaned about all of the above for a half-an-hour last night, J eventually said: "Sometimes we just have to put on our big-girl panties and go do what we need to do..." Me, in the middle of my meltdown: "But how am I gonna put them on if he keeps asking me to take them OFF?" I got the "only you" head shake, followed by the much-needed laugh. Yeah, only me. For now, I'm trying not to agonize over this. I seriously would like for one appointment to STAY one appointment. None of this, 'let's get some labs' or 'let's check this out' or 'let's take a look at that' shit. If it's not broken, don't fix it. That's always been my motto, and deep down, I DO know that things break for unseen reasons and they have to be 'investigated.' Never said I liked it, though. And if this is all a preview of what life after 40 looks like, I've got some adjustments to make when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to medical stuff. Still nervous. Still more scared than I'll ever be able to verbally admit to anyone. But I'm also working on being honest with myself with what I'm feeling, as well as with others who ask me what's going through my mind at any given time, rather than shrug it off and say 'nothing.' And writing these things down is the most effective means of doing that...so thank you in advance if you've made it this far. In closing, I hope that my American friends have a safe, happy 4th of July!!! I'll be using the holiday as a distraction from the events that will likely take place next week - it's all I can do right now. - Capulet
  20. Hey, all! Hoping this finds everyone in good health...mental and otherwise! As for me, I'm still...well...me. I dare not say for sure that I'm in good mental health because that, as always, remains a matter of opinion. So...spring has finally sprung where I live...where there were gnarled, menacing tree branches, there are now lovely cherry blossom trees in bloom, colorful leaves growing, grass and flowers sprouting. Rising temperatures are also lifting my spirits - although we've had more than enough rain, it's still nice to be free of the arctic nightmare that was this past winter. I'm more motivated to go outside - this week, we're having a little work done in our backyard. Next week, I'll be attempting to decorate. The Son's graduation barbecue has been set for five weeks from now and I'm motivated to make our back yard beautiful. The cherry blossom tree I want of my own is likely going to be next year's project; making the yard presentable is going to keep me busy enough for the next few weeks. Lost a little bit less than one pound, bringing my total to 26.1. Slowly but surely, I'll get there. My water intake hasn't been what it should. Will work on that this week. But, anyway...enough of the small talk... Lately, I've been struggling with sleep, again. I thought I had it figured out, but I apparently do not. Tylenol PM has been deemed ineffective - two nights this past week, I took two and waited, waited and WAITED. Sleep remained elusive, even though I had managed to cover every single little annoying light in the room. I tossed and turned for at least another two or three hours before I finally fell asleep - an hour before the alarm roused me to get the kids up and off to school. I think I know what the problem is. It's not until I'm trying to fall asleep at night that my brain (which has been inadequately programmed to accept SLEEP as an acceptable and normal way of life) decides that it's time to think about things that I don't necessarily have answers for. At two or three in the morning, no less. I'll be tossing and turning, intent on replenishing on my energy and strength and my brain goes something like this: "Pssst. Hey, Capulet. D'ya remember the kitchen drawer you meant to re-arrange and organize? Well, it's getting fuller because you've been neglecting it for weeks. How much longer do you think it'll be before you won't be able to open it? And when you finally DO get to it, the knob you pull to open the drawer is loose. You're going to need a Phillips screwdriver to tighten it. The screwdriver is actually IN that drawer, too, so you don't have to look far. You planned for that, actually. And then when you're done with that knob, you're going to need to tighten at least a dozen other knobs throughout the kitchen and bathroom cabinets..." So, there you have it...there's me...at three o'clock in the fucking morning, there I am with the screwdriver, because my brain won't shut the fuck up about the knobs. You'd also think - okay, all thirteen knobs tightened, am I going to be able to sleep now? No. Because then it starts with the next thing. It's like my brain queues thoughts - things I push away when I have all the time in the world during the damn day, and it saves them for when I'm supposed to be sleeping. But I think I'm a sleep superhero - I've mentioned previously that this was something I've been used to since I was in my late teens. Sure, the day after, I'm a zombie and the night after, I USUALLY crash accompanying a NyQuil swig. So, a couple nights ago...I had a pounding headache. Took a Tylenol PM - (and here's further proof that it simply doesn't work...I either need to take three or four or find something stronger) and headed to bed. Few minutes in, there's the voice of my brain. "Hey. Hey. Never mind sleep. Tell me, Capulet, why do you think you don't like music?" I punch my pillow. Oh, my God. All I want is to SLEEP! Shut up, brain. SHUT UP! I attempt to ignore the voice. I think of other things. I think of my beautiful nieces and my handsome nephew. My cats. My upcoming house projects. The parties I'm trying to plan for birthdays, graduations, other marvelous life moments. I try to "start" a dream...hopefully I'll drift off and finish it. No such luck that night, though. "You're not going to sleep until you explain to yourself why you hate music. Come on. It's time to think about this and nothing else, because you're NOT going to be able to sleep until you do..." I want to say Will Ferrell is the voice of my disobedient brain - simply because I can't stand him and find him annoying. Very convenient, isn't it, to have him narrate my impromptu middle-of-the-night thoughts? So, I get to thinking about my dislike of music. It's not because I want to or choose to, it's because Will Ferrell won't let me sleep. I always thought that it mostly has to do with the fact that I can't hear it. I can feel the beat, I can hear, through the help of my hearing aid, the sounds. But I cannot string together the words to a song. I can't tell if it's a pleasant sound or dissonant. I can't enjoy it, even in the smallest way. I don't understand when someone tells me that music is more than hearing; it's an experience. I don't get it when my fiancee rushes over to me after watching 'The Voice' with goosebumps on her arms and she says, "Oh, my god...their singing...it sent chills through my body...look! See the goosebumps?" And sure enough, yes, there they are. I don't get it when I see people in the gym or jogging in the park with headphones in. I mean, I guess I CAN understand - for these people, it serves as a distraction...when you can focus on your favorite songs while you work out, the exercise doesn't seem so tedious. Maybe that's why I fail miserably whenever I DO bring my ass over to the gym. I see people with song lyrics tattooed on them. Lyrics I normally cannot identify the song they came from or who the artist is. My mother loves music and enjoys Broadway...she goes to shows often with her (retired) friends. My father, when he's not swearing at the Mets and their recent lack of baseball talent, loves music and occasionally 'jams' with his (also retired) friends - he plays the organ and the saxophone, for fun. He's also known to enjoy American Idol when it's on. My sister (the one who's a bit of a snoot) has been performing since she was a small child and much to all of our relief, she's now just had her second child and is just now focusing on motherhood, something she should have started doing five years ago when my nephew was born. My fiancee loves playing her favorite music in the car or in the bedroom...she will attempt to tell me about certain songs, certain performers, and as much as I try, I can't bring myself to care. In fact, J and I have an inside joke. Whenever I see people sing, I have to admit to being amused by it and often referring to it as 'people screaming.' Because, to me, it looks like they're screaming in pain. Especially the ones who belt out in song and distort their faces so excessively, it reminds me of someone attempting to pass a kidney stone or preparing for childbirth. And so, on J's days off, I sleep late (most likely because the night before was a restless one) and while she's waiting for me to awaken, she 'watches people scream' with her cat. It works for me. And finally, my KIDS love music. The daughter is constantly playing music through her iPad while she does homework, cleans, takes showers. A lot of the time, I have to tell her to turn her stuff down, because it's giving me a headache. The Son, a few weeks ago when I picked him up from school, expressed his sadness that I couldn't hear music. He said he 'felt so bad' for me, that he found it devastating that I didn't know what I was missing. I told him that I wasn't bothered by it. I think I found it more touching that he was of the impression that we'd even have the same taste in tunes... I've even seen and met other deaf people (and it's safe to say they are just as deaf as I) who enjoy feeling the beat and claim to love music, even watching people sing/perform on television, even if they're not getting the full audio experience they still SOMEHOW manage to gain from music and reading the subtitles as a person performs. I'll never understand though, how that's possible, either. But I never questioned it. I don't think I ever really cared enough to do so. I guess it would be a different story if I'd ever heard music. If I'd been born with the ability to hear and lost my hearing later in life, I think I'd have been crushed, having something I enjoyed so intensely taken away from me. I think that's what my son THINKS happened in my case, even though I've explained time and time again - you can't possibly miss something you've never had the pleasure of understanding or experiencing. But...I have to confess...I hate music. When I hear music playing through the radio or through someone's phone or from the TV, it sounds staticky. It's just loud, annoying noise. Oftentimes, it gives me a headache because that's what noise DOES. When you can't make heads nor tails of it, you're left with unnecessary background noise that plays in your head long after it's been turned off. I can't help but roll my eyes - is it really as hyped up as everyone says? I mean - I've always said people were entitled to their own opinions, not everyone likes and dislikes the same things. But almost every single person I know likes music...and I can't help but feel left out because this isn't something I can take joy in alongside them. Ebenezer Scrooge's 'bah humbug' comes to mind whenever I see someone enjoying music or singing...and I just find myself disconnecting from any and all forms of music. I allow myself to get lost in thoughts and if the 'noise' gets to be too much, I take my ear out. I retreat into silence, because, for me - this is more comfortable. I have another theory, though, on why this is such a torrid topic. And this isn't an easy theory to recognize but in hindsight, it makes a whole lot of sense. I am going to issue a trigger warning at this point...okay? When I was assaulted at seventeen years old, it happened at a party. I was in someone's bedroom (it was not my attacker's house nor a fraternity house - it was simply someone else's 'folks-are-away-on-European-vacation-so-let's-have-a-rager' house) and my assailant had locked us inside that upstairs bedroom under the pretense of making a phone call to someone who could pick me up since my 'ride' was downstairs and drunk. Anyway, at one point after things had gone terribly wrong, I was pinned down on the floor, with him on top of me, methodically ripping away my soul. It was after I had stopped fighting him - any previous attempts to cry for help were not heard nor recognized and the door remained locked for the duration of the assault. And although I may not have understood it in the moment due to shock and eventual 'check-out', I'd later begin to realize why no one came. It's because, through the floor, I could literally feel the blasting of the music playing downstairs. This kid must have had top-of-the-line speakers and stereo equipment because it was the type of loud that one could barely hear themselves in, never mind someone in a bedroom upstairs. My body (back mostly) vibrated along with the floors. Surely, no one heard my feet and fists stomping on the floor. No one heard me scream. No one came to my rescue because NO ONE HEARD ME. During that life-changing moment that I will never be able to associate without the presence of loud "noise," I lost not only a huge part of myself, but also the ability to see music as anything but bothersome as well as loathsome. And there you have it, friends - I want to think that although the hearing impairment is likely the primary culprit, that there is also that secondary reason why I won't open up my mind to music. I just can't. Yet, I've been known to jot down some poetry and I was constantly writing things down following the sexual assault. These were my most common outlets. Both of these are closely associated with songwriting and with creation. But for me - there was no musical vision accompanying these words. While another artist might be able to put 'noise' and lovely melodies to these words, all I can manage, is silence. I am sure that music in general is a beautiful thing - yet, I can't help but associate it with something so ugly and heartless, cruel, cold. And this is something I don't like about myself nor to admit about myself, especially since I know that for so many people, whether they are close to me or not, this is a STAPLE. People have said they don't know what they'd do without their favorite music...for to them, it's comforting. As I near the end of this post, I do want to put a little disclaimer here - that if you are one of those who gain comfort from music, I certainly do respect that - I just would never be able to understand it the way you do! And in no way do I feel differently about any of my friends who love something I dislike so much - for I truly feel we all have our valid reasons for loving/hating something. I just feel that unless you can effectively explain and comprehend what your own personal reasons are, then you're not justified. (I don't know if this is even the right word or even fair to say - it's just a feeling I have when it comes to my own likes and dislikes, and it's, as expected, nearly 3am right now so I've surpassed the point of translucent thinking.) I truly wish that this was different for me and that I were more open to reading song lyrics, 'feeling' the meaning behind them, etc, but this is not something I can do right now. If this will ever be possible, I don't know, but I'm not in a hurry. But, to me, aside from not being able to hear it properly, music is simply just noise...and likely a triggering one. I'm not sure if writing this blog entry will enable me to completely understand or even to answer this particular pressing question that from time to time plagues me at odd hours of the morning. I'm not sure if it's even validation I seek. Either way...I'll hope that this interpretation appeases Will Ferrell as I hobble over to the bed. I've taken the swig a few minutes ago and am hoping that shortly, sleep, along with silence, will overcome my otherwise busy, insomniac brain. I'm sure that in the next couple nights, Will shall be back and he'll be asking me (at 2am) if I've remembered to feed the Daughter's hermit crabs or if I've remembered to transfer the clothes from the washer into the dryer or I've paid a bill or emailed an aunt for her birthday. My best to everyone. And, until next time, adios! - Capulet
  21. Hello, friends! Sending my usual apologies for not having updated in a while. For the first time in several days, I can sincerely say we’re thawed out. The new boiler is working nicely - we now have heat and hot water in addition to the restoring of our electricity and internet. The kids went back to school this week; a lot of families in the area didn’t have power for the entire week last week following the winter storm, so the school district had some mercy on us all and closed the schools for the entire week while electric, oil, propane, cable companies all worked hard to get us all back up and running. Of course, my bank account is going to be quite sad for a while, now that we have to come up with a way of funding the new boiler, which is now on Oompa’s credit card. I may have to consider selling my eggs. I make cute kids. Anyway, amidst all this there was the usual wasband drama. We never seem to go without. We’ve gotten to the point where his name is mentioned and all eyes begin rolling. Mine, J’s and depending on how they feel about him, the kids’. I cannot express to you all enough how much misery this man puts me through. Even now, when I’m not married to him anymore and he now has a wife (his third) that he can annoy on a daily basis. He has a new wife that he can order around, a woman who once was tough but now has succumbed to his endless manipulation. No, I don’t feel bad for her, but at the same time, I do understand it all because the emotional abuse didn’t stop once the divorce papers were signed. Because we share two children in common (and that’s about all we share that matters) he still seizes any and all opportunities to remind me that he is right, he knows best, he’s never wrong, and I am one hundred percent wrong, every single time. Of course, that’s what he says initially, but after the volcano that is the wasband erupts, he cools down and somehow remembers how to talk rationally. Even then, he wastes no effort in proving why he was right in the first place. All I end up doing is nodding my head, because really, what the fuck is the point? Nothing I say is going to be right and I don’t have the energy to argue. I’m sick of seeing his pissed off face, the look of disgust when I talk to him or even try to tell him how I feel about something, the 'whatevers’ when I know I’m right and he does, too, and he just doesn’t want to give me an iota of credit. I’m so tired, guys. I’m REALLY tired. Know though, that the wasband came from a broken, abusive home and he’s been on his own since he was a teenager. Add to that he’s ex-military. By now, he’s alienated his entire family, and I do have to say that most of it was for justified reasons, but at the same time, it has destroyed him as a person. He has only the concept of his own family, everyone else’s family is irrelevant to him. I know he’s capable of being a good person when he wants to, but his need to control everything and everybody around him overshadows his finer qualities, as few of them as there are. And now, he’s managed to brainwash our children into agreeing with everything he says because they’re afraid of what he’ll say to them if they don’t. There’s so much I want to say to him, so much I want to scream at him, but I don’t because, what’s the point? He’ll come back at me with the usual belittling bullshit he’s mastered in the nearly 20 years I know him. He is truly an ugly, UGLY man, and right now I want to punch him in the face. All I can do at the moment is hope for another stent collapse in the near future because REALLY, there is nothing at all short of his passing that will free us from this man’s influence. And then there’s the subsequent feeling of guilt for having admitted that much because that’s just plain horrible of me to say. Let’s get this straight, I’ll never hate him. As much as his behavior is tedious, tiresome and unreasonable, he IS still the father of my children and he provides. And so, I often have to force myself to soothe their ruffled feathers every now and then but I’m running out of ways to do that. He doesn’t defend me to them, I’m sure. Whenever they have an issue with me, for whatever reason, they bring it to him and of course, I get lectured about it and reminded of why I’m wrong. He actually had the balls to tell me that they were losing respect for me, when ironically, their complaints about HIM have escalated in recent months. However, when they come to me with problems they have with him, we listen and shake our heads, but we certainly don’t go running back to him. We don’t get that luxury. He’d just tell us we’re wrong, so again, what’s the point? God, I absolutely hate how he is. I hate how he intimidates everyone around him, including our children. Right now my daughter is grounded from all of her electronics, TV and social media because he feels she intentionally harmed her little sister when they were roughhousing. My daughter claims and insists she didn’t mean for the little one to get hurt, but he flat-out accused her. And so, I tried not to laugh when my daughter gave my phone the finger when she saw her father’s number pop up. I spoke with the wasband over FaceTime and told him that I truly didn’t believe it was our daughter’s intent to hurt her sister, and he immediately started yelling at me and saying that by saying that, I was enabling her behavior. And so I nodded. Said, “okay.” Said nothing more for the duration of the conversation. I don’t think I heard much more of what he had to say after accusing me of enabling her bad behavior. I saw just his face get all ugly, his sneering, his lip curls. And so, like a robot, whenever he said ‘am I right?’ I would just nod. Because I’m not in the mood to carry on this conversation forever because that’s about as long as it would take for him to see anything in the same perspective as me. You see, my own brain was going a mile a minute. I know she has been acting out more than usual recently. She HAS had an attitude lately, she HAS been defiant, she HAS been different since we moved here. She’s also 11 years old, 12 in a few months. She’s expressed how much she hates it here, she’s said she misses her friends, she’s unhappy with the way she’s being treated in school. Not to mention, if she’s anything like me, her first period is likely on the horizon somewhere and she’s hormonal. I brought up all of these points to him, not only to defend her but because I truly believe that’s why she’s behaving in the manner she is. But basically, I was told to shut up and that I was allowing her to behave negatively and making excuses for her. Thank GOD I have this place to vent, because I’m beginning to reach my boiling point with him and his bullshit. He’s not only causing problems within his own relationship with our kids, but he’s also the cause of a lot of family drama and almost every issue I have with my family has to do with him in SOME way. I’m reminded of the letters my T in the past had told me to write to my abusers but never to send. He certainly qualifies as one. Last week’s events have made me think so much of what I’d want to say to him but because I’m still, to a point, afraid of what he’ll do or say in retaliation (For example, would he further brainwash my kids? Turn them against me? Fight me for custody? Make my life difficult in any and every way imaginable because he has acquired enough control over me and groomed me whilst married to him?) and so I don’t say these things. I’m quiet. I agree with him even when I truly don’t. Then when we get home, I’m pacing the floor hollering about what a jerk he is and trying to convince myself not to give a shit because I know it’s not worth pressing whatever issue it is - because I will never win. So, I’ll just say it here. I’d love to say to him - Knock it off, asshole! I’m sick and tired of being a puppet, I’m not your wife anymore, I’m nothing to you other than the mother of your children. You don’t treat ANY of your children’s mothers with the respect they deserve, not only for bearing your children but also for putting up with you and your fucking mind games for however long they did. If anything, we should be nominated for sainthood because YOU are not an easy man to be with, yet we tried our best to love you, to please you. Apparently we all failed at that, because pleasing you often means we have to sacrifice our own personal happiness because all you truly think about is your own damn self. Contrary to what you believe, you’re NOT the stand-up guy you THINK others see you as, no one will admit it to you because you’ve made everyone so afraid of you and rather than allow you to belittle them and make them feel an inch tall, the safer route is just to go along with whatever you say. But here’s the truth. No one can stand you. Everyone I’ve met has expressed a complaint about you that I’ve kept to myself out of respect for YOU. I’ve defended you for the sake of keeping the peace and in return, you continue to treat me like shit. You treat your kids like shit. You treat your current wife like shit, and like I was, she’s stuck because you’ve also alienated her family. You, sir, are going to die a miserable fucking old man with no one (except your children maybe, and that’s only because they have unconditional love for their father) to miss your militant, domineering ass. And when your kids finally give up on you and decide they’re sick of your shit, too, do NOT look to me for help because you’re on your fucking own, buddy. Just like whenever I need help with one of them, I’m on my own and then you proceed to ADD to the fucking problem rather than offer up a solution as a co-parent should. Yes, you provide, and yes, our children have clothes, food, anything they could ever want, but we need more than that. We need compassion that you’re not capable of showing, we need warmth that you’re void of as well, and we need compromise, whereas with you there is absolutely fucking NONE. I’m SICK of pretending to like you for the sake of our kids’ sanity, when in all honesty, I hate more things about you than I ever loved. In fact, I don’t understand myself for having ever married your ass. I’ll say it was temporary insanity when others ask me what the fuck I ever saw in you, but you know, when I ask myself the same question, I’m not even sure anymore. I truly believe you came along at a vulnerable point in my life and it was a time I was VERY easily manipulated and you saw an opportunity and charmed me into leaving home, moving in with you, raising your children. I THOUGHT I loved you because you, being the master of deception you are, convinced me that you would protect me, you would support me, you actually said you loved me quite a bit back then, and I responded in kind. But, truthfully, I think I was only in love with the idea of the stability you promised we’d have but we never really reached that point. We had money problems, we fought constantly, and of course, you won every single fucking argument because you would verbally batter me down to a pulp, as you continued to do even after our divorce. Thank you for that, by the way. Best fucking thing you could have ever given me aside from our perfect son and daughter. We always had chaos, I did most of the caring for the kids with little to no thanks from you verbal or otherwise. There was ONLY criticism because nothing I did ever measured up. Or it wasn’t done the way you wanted it done. Or if I were to argue with anything you said, I’d be in for a fight that lasted all week and it’d be a quarrel that I emotionally couldn’t and wouldn’t sustain, so rather than argue, I went along with every damn thing you said, even if I didn’t agree. And like a fucking asshole, I still do it, because you’ve trained me well. But I was truly MISERABLE, you asshole, and even if you did notice it, you did and said nothing about it. You’re a horrible husband…you tormented your first wife, you were horrible to me, you are currently an ogre to your wife. You're quick to call other people 'pieces of shit,' but lemme ask you, what the hell do you see when you look in the mirror??? It BAFFLES me that you don’t see what just about EVERYONE else does. But, you know, you’ll find that out when you close your eyes for the last time, most likely alone. I believe that in that moment before death, your life flashes before your eyes and I hope you finally understand the wrath you impose on the people closest to you. And I hope to hell you regret it. I hope you truly understand what people who have crossed paths with in life see when they see you. And guess what, you piece of shit? It’s going to be way too late to go back and make amends, to right all of your wrongs. You’re already nearing the point of no return with your own KIDS, how much more of your crap do you think they’re going to take?? Your way is not always the best way, and you NEED to learn to let things be, everyone would be so much happier. And hell, maybe you’ll fucking LIVE longer, too. All of the stress you claim you have (and probably blame everyone else for) is mostly brought on by your own damn self. So…wake the fuck up! Aaaaaah. To you guys, I say thanks again for hearing me rant. I’m sure there’s more that I’d love to say, no…SCREAM in his face, but this will have to do for now, as my own little inner volcano is now empty. I feel cleansed a little, maybe my former T was onto SOMETHING. And believe me, she wasn't right about everything. Going to try to turn in for now. Tomorrow (or rather, today) is a new day. Going to envision his face on my pillow and beat it up a little bit for good measure. - Capulet
  22. Let's all raise our hands if we're done with Christmas! If it were within my capacity to turn back-flips, I'd be doing that right now. I'd likely end up in traction but it'd be worth it, compared to how I was made to feel this past Christmas season. I'm more happy that it's over. It was over before it started, if that makes any sense... I'll further explain. Most of you know that this was our first Christmas in our new home. The house was beautifully decorated. The tree was put up right after Thanksgiving weekend and the light show has ALWAYS been my favorite. I love the multi-color lights, I love the tree being the only source of light in the evenings. Such a calming, merry feeling while watching TV and all the other house lights are off. At least for me, this was a nice and peaceful feeling and a feeling I look forward to whenever we're eating turkey leftovers. Additionally, I'm happy to say that our tree ultimately survived the wrath of my youngest cat, who has successfully learned that he is no longer a kitten and is too big and fat to shimmy up the center of the tree and perch himself across the branches in the middle. I did have to "repair" the branches at the bottom, that just fall to the floor because of his failed attempts to get into the tree. A few ornaments ended up on the floor every morning, but there haven't been any fatalities this year; the glass/expensive ones were put high up because of aforementioned cat. The other four don't give a rat's ass about the tree, it's always the youngest one that's the problem... Anyway...moving on. We decorated the outside of the house with lights...something we'd never done before. It looked lovely. J and I were proud of ourselves. I must say ours was the nicest looking house on the block! We had lights in all the windows, a couple of those projector things with snowmen and snowflakes on one side, we strung up the wall at the end of the driveway, covered a tree with net lights....VERY nice! We hung a nice big wreath on the entrance door, another in the living room on the wall above the mantle. I put the red shiny bows on the doorknobs and drawer handles, made things look nice and festive with the addition of little Christmas-themed knick-knacks and candles and anything that smelled like candy-canes or gingerbread or sugar cookies...out they went with little candies and M&Ms, whatever we could put in these little glass (Holiday-themed) bowls...I put out Christmas coasters...my halls were DECKED. I put garland up along the edge of the fireplace, complete with battery-operated lights that went on every day at 6pm and shut off at midnight. 6 on, 18 off, easy-peasy with these battery-operated delights, didn't have to worry about replacing the batteries at all but will imagine they need new ones at the start of next season. That is, given I'm in the mood to decorate. Oompa also "contributed" when she downsized drastically over the last year...and by "contributing," I mean, she threw whatever she had no room for into a plastic grocery store bag and brought them over to us to use. I often joke among the sisters that she's simply giving them to me to throw away for her. There WAS some salvageable junk, but most of it was unnecessary junk that I didn't want to use here, either. We all get a daily text from Oompa, I'll have you know..."Do any of my girls want this beautiful hanger, passed down from great-great-great Nonna from Italy?" And then the chorus of "no's" begins... Then the stupid hanger ends up in a bag and on my kitchen table because she has a sentimental attachment to it and will store it in the bedroom closet she uses when she's here. I swear to God, you can't make this up - that bedroom smells like Old Lady, the efforts of Yankee Candle and Glade Plug-Ins combined cannot fully combat the stench...it's simply because she has too many "collectibles" that no one wants and she insists on putting into her room, and the door being closed at all times to ensure a cat-free zone further preserves and promotes the Old Lady sanctuary. These little, minor things, I can deal with. What I CANNOT deal with though, is manipulation. Where Oompa is involved, though, let's call it mom-nipulation because that's fitting. She has been bitching and moaning since the SUMMER (it was the beginning of July when we moved here, she wasted NO time) that I moved two hours away from her. J has made comments to her that SHE lives 4 hours away from all of her family members but that has little to no effect on my mother. I might as well have moved across the country, the way she has been carrying on. My mother's biggest problem, if you ask me, is that she does not feel needed by me/us. She weeps because she doesn't see us once a week like she used to, she clings whenever she comes, she complains when I decline an invite to her house for Sunday dinner, she then throws us moving back into our faces and lays blame on US for moving away and not making the effort in keeping the family together. In return, I remind her that Sister #1 moved BEFORE we did, she chose the retirement community 20 minutes away from Sister #1 BEFORE we moved two hours away. SHE was the one who got the moving ball rolling. Sister #2 and her husband also moved 20 minutes away from her little retirement community (although in the other direction) BEFORE we moved. Why should we move close to her/them when we had no intention of ever living in New Jersey!? We told her YEARS before either one of us moved; we were bypassing New Jersey entirely and moving to Pennsylvania. She knew this. Yet, she still complains that it's not a location in Pennsylvania that is close enough to where she hangs her hat.... All in all, I just do not have the heart to tell her that she misses me/us MORE than I/we miss her. In a way, both of my sisters having babies within a six-month span of time helps - because now she needs to help THEM with their "new-parent" statuses, takes some of the pressure off of us, and in the meantime keeps her too busy to complain to us. I'm fine with seeing her once a month! Or less. Really, because all she does when she's here is cry and complain and bit*h and moan and piss everyone off in the process. You'd think that having a three-year old grandson and a newborn granddaughter with another granddaughter on the way in a couple of months would help...right? But no, she finds reasons to complain, anyway! Christmas, particularly Christmas Eve, has always been my mother's thing. She would have all of her daughters, their spouses (and in my case, ex-spouses), grandchildren, my father and his wife would come, along with the occasional extra in-law guest with nowhere else to go, etc, at her house (this was back in New York, before we BOTH moved this past summer...me to here, and her to a retirement community in New Jersey....hence her downsizing crusade) for a fish feast and present-opening extravaganza. We did it every year regardless of her constant over-cooking of the fish, the drama that would ensue and the annual argument between any two or three random family members. Not that the drama was wanted or needed, it was pretty much a given...because wherever Oompa is, the drama is. With the exception of me and maybe Sister #2, Oompa breeds drama. She starts it with her husband, my poor stepfather and both my sisters' father. This man has endured her bullshit for thirty-five years. She yells at him mercilessly, calls him stupid and orders him around. In his old age, he's gotten to the point where he tolerates it less and less, resulting in full-blown arguments over the dinner/dessert table if not during all the preparation. Sister #1 has inherited my mother's flair for drama and in turn, has absolutely no filter on her mouth, almost everything that comes out is an insult. She truly met her soul-mate in her husband, who also has no filter nor a pot to catch HIS verbal diarrhea. As a result, that is an aunt and uncle my kids don't care for. They will say hello and goodbye at family gatherings but DREAD their presence at any one of them. Lately, that secret dread has been made not-so-secret. Anyway, last year was our "last" Christmas Eve at Oompa's old house, the house we grew up in. That house was sold prior to our move. We all said it last year...next year, we start new traditions. I wanted the Christmas Eve torch and made it known to both Oompa and my father and stepmother and sisters as well as to the wasband and his wife and all of the kids. Now, fast forward to this year. Oompa's excuses began back in October with the birth of my niece. "Ohh, you know, she's (Sister #2 and her husband) not going to drive two hours to your house with a newborn in tow...the baby's too small..." (why she thinks a baby won't sleep in the car for a 2 hour ride is beside me....my kids would sleep for six hours as long as the damn car was RUNNING)...but fine, I accepted that. Baby's first Christmas, after all. It was later told to me that they would be going to my brother in law's parents' house for Christmas Eve. So, this sister was squared away. I took no offense to this. I understand it. Then... "Your sister's (#1) husband is deathly allergic to cats so she won't come for Christmas Eve at your house, either...let's do it at my house in Jersey?" She tried this too. I told her that I'd buy a supply of Benadryl for the asshole but I'm not putting 10 people on the highways on Christmas Eve to accommodate one person (my brother-in-law with the nonstop verbal diarrhea) because he's allergic to cats. I'm simply not re-arranging my holiday plans because he won't come. My sister would come because according to Oompa, they had nowhere to go either. So I told her to bring my sister and nephew and come for dinner, if my brother in law chose to stay home, then that was on him. But then more excuses...she's (my sister) seven months' pregnant and shouldn't be in the car for that long. Are you fucking kidding me?! So I finally put my foot down and told her that I was doing Christmas Eve...(which was also J's birthday)...here. That's it. We weren't hauling everyone in our family (to include wasband's because his family consists of the four other grandchildren she knew before the ones that take up all of her time NOW) over to her tiny little house in New Jersey because she wasn't willing to work with us as far as my sister and her husband were concerned. Now, this was only three-quarters of the family. My father (whom I inherited the drama-free attitude from) is retiring this year. He lives THREE hours away from us. He's not complained once. In fact, he vacations frequently in the area we live in, so he was actually HAPPY to hear we moved where we moved. He's come a couple times since then and stayed over, enjoyed his visits with us. There have been ZERO complaints from him. So, this year, he had but one request. He couldn't come on the actual Christmas Eve because on Christmas Day, he had plans with his wife's family. He has these plans every year, but the drive back from my house to where he (and his wife's family) would be too traffic-filled if he were to leave Christmas morning. So he asked to come December 23rd, have an "early" Christmas Eve celebration here, spend the night, and head home on Christmas Eve (afternoon) so that his visit on Christmas Day would warrant less travel hassle. Makes sense, right? So I agreed. Oompa was invited for the 23rd as well, and she came on the 23rd. My father's wife is not a cat-lover either. When they arrived, I told them that my son's room (which has a full-size bed) was available for one set of grandparents while the other set would stay in the guest room that my mother has "old-ladied" to the max. They'd hash out those details amongst themselves when they arrived but both sets of parents would have a bedroom with a door, clean sheets, etc. My only suggestion was for my Dad and his wife to bring their own pillows, as the ones in my son's room are quite beat up. Okay, so Dad arrives on the 23rd. Oompa was already there. My stepfather busied himself tinkering with things around the house - he's got the need to be doing something at all times. Anyway, Stepmother asked Oompa if she could have the guest/Old Lady room because it was the only room in the house completely closed off to cats and she was hoping for no stray cat hairs on her bedding. Oompa, without consulting with my stepfather, said yes, that she and her husband would take my son's room (which really isn't a cat hangout - when he's not home, the door is closed...when he IS home, the door is closed...so it really wasn't too big of a deal) and my father and his wife would take the guest room/Oompa's room. So they put all their stuff in that bedroom, we had dinner...not exactly a drama-free dinner, because it was also my stepson's (wasband's eldest son's) birthday on the 23rd. My kids wanted to go there for dinner, thus cutting our "fake" Christmas Eve short. Not to mention Oompa screamed at both of them because they expressed a want/need to celebrate their brother's birthday and to have dinner with the wasband, despite my having planned a nice family meal over here. I had to smooth the waters between my son and my mother, stating we would eat a little bit earlier, then they could go join the wasband for a SECOND dinner before we all went there for cake later on. For the record, we usually DO celebrate his birthday on the 23rd but because this year, we had no other time to have my father over and my mother wasn't going to stay for Christmas Eve because that would, in turn, leave Sister #1 with no one to see or nowhere to go, we planned to eat our dinner and go to the wasband's for cake. It was my attempt to make everyone happy, to see everyone for Christmas Eve, a day early. Wasband refused to bring everyone over here on a day that was his son's birthday (and my stepson would NOT have cared, I know this about him...it was the wasband who was being difficult) and to combine birthday and holiday together. So...we made the most of it and tried to squish everything into the 23rd so that everyone else could carry out alternative plans. But no. No one was happy, including me, because whenever I try and accommodate ANYONE, I end up inconveniencing others. After cake, there was more drama. My stepfather's boiling point was reached and he hollered at my stepmother, telling her that he wasn't giving up his room. My mother hadn't consulted with him and he was angry about it. He deserved to be able to sleep in the room that he always slept in when he was at my house. He carried on. My stepmother finally threw her hands up and agreed to move everything into my son's room. My mother was embarrassed to no end, and the next morning, she left before my father and stepmother even came upstairs, weeping and saying it was the worst Christmas ever. I did tell her she could stay that night for dinner, stay over until early in the morning, then go spend Christmas with Sister #1, since really, that would make sense...Sis #2 had her in-laws for Christmas Eve, Sis #1 kind of screwed herself because she did have every opportunity to come and chose not to...not my fault nor my mother's, so they could always find something to do or someplace to go...there WAS someone that liked them enough to have them over, I'm sure of it...there was ALWAYS a standing invitation for them to come to my house, too. That's when she tells me that Sis #2's plans changed. Instead of Sis #2 going to her in-laws' as originally planned, her in-laws decided to bring Christmas Eve to her. The arrival of my niece had rendered her useless in the kitchen, so they were bringing all the food and having the get-together over at her house. Originally, my mother wasn't seeing her on Christmas Eve at all and would be seeing both sisters on Christmas Day. Now, my mother would be attending THEIR celebration, mostly because it was closer to home. THAT's what offended me. I was even more pissed off when I heard that Sis #1, the one with nowhere else to go on Christmas Eve, decided to join Sis #2 and her family on Christmas Eve, too, at her house. Then on Christmas Day, they all went to #1's house. Meaning, my mother chose to spend BOTH Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with those two, leaving us all here, wondering why we didn't get either day out of her, or any of them. NOW, I'm pissed off. I had my little meltdown that consisted of ugly crying into the fur of whatever cat I could reach. I put on a smile for the rest of the holidays, and I got through them regardless of how pissed off I am at how everything unfolded. I haven't had the talk with Oompa, but this year kind of set the stage for next year and all of the Christmases to follow. My youngest sister wants to take the torch and wants to do it at her house from now on. Right now, I'm too pissed, too BAH HUMBUG to bring it up, but when the time comes, I'm announcing that Christmas Eve will be held ON Christmas Eve, at my house, EVERY year. They can come or they can stay the fuck home. I'm not having a repeat of this Christmas. There will be NO fucking rescheduling drama. Not from Oompa, not from anyone else. Yes, I moved, but I've also been to my sisters' houses, their neck of the woods more than any of them have come to ours. It's the same drive, whether they come to me or I go to them, I'm just not bending anymore. I'm not accommodating any of them anymore because they're too lazy or too allergic or too pregnant, or too inadequate in the kitchen, or for whatever other fucking reason they can throw at me. The torch was supposed to come to ME, the eldest daughter, and I'm reclaiming it. Now, I'm bitterly de-Christmasizing the house in between blogging and binging on Christmas cookies, simply to get rid of the fucking things. I'm probably going to greet 2018 fifteen pounds heavier, but regardless, I'm ripping those fucking shiny red bows off of the doorknobs and handles. I am pulling candy canes off of whatever little areas I've chosen to hang them in. I'm throwing away the gingerbread house that Oompa and my daughter made together on the afternoon of the 23rd, after the yelling had died down. I carried up the Rubbermaid storage bins and am throwing anything Christmas into those bins, to later be stored up in the attic. I don't want to see or hear about any more Christmas bullshit anymore, which sucks because I always LOVED Christmas, the lights, the decorations, the tinsel and garlands, the excitement, the anticipation, the cookies, etc. Now? I'm Ebenezer Capulet and I'm dreading subsequent Christmases. Maybe the hurt/aggravation is too fresh right now; I don't know...but this is new to me. Something's got to give. Changes need to be made. And they are not all on my part. I'm realizing this now - I've made all the changes I can make. I need for them to be adapted to and for others to be willing to meet me halfway. Anyway. I know in general, Christmas is never simple. Everyone's got something. I sincerely hope YOUR holidays were better than mine. If they weren't, at least we can take consolation in knowing we have 11 months before the insanity begins again. 11 months to recuperate, before the holiday bullshit ensues again. *sigh* Either way, I TRULY hope that even though there may have been unnecessary stress this season, that we all had at least one thing to be grateful for, one thing that made us smile, one thing that was done or said that we can remember fondly. That, I can say I did have. There was at least one thing, if not a few, that I found myself blessed to have this year, even if it was that I was able to decorate a brand-new house for a holiday I hope I can learn to love and look forward to again. My kids loved everything that Santa brought them, so there's also that. The little things do add up. Happy New Year, folks. 2018 for the win? - Capulet
  23. Stephenjames

    Very angry..

    Really angry and upset today. Relatives of sex offender/sexual abuser 'C' harassing and verbally abusing me in my local supermarket. Relatives of 'C' shouting and verbally through the walls of my bedroom, relatives of 'C' living on property next to my parents house verbally abusing and shouting at me. Can't seem to escape 'C', have been suffering it now for 25 years. 'C' arranged for me to be raped in my bedroom aged 17 which made me very ill both physically and mentally. 'C' is facing 10 years in prison for a child pornography scam that she set up to try and put me in prison for. 'C' sexually abused me for 8 months when I was a 16 year old, they did something to my brain with LSD so that I couldn't fight back or fight 'C' off. 'C' used to hang around my school hall when I was a 15 year old and stare at my genitals and laugh. 'C' had planned the poisoning and sexual abuse out months in advance. I need to sit a Law Degree to fathom out how to put 'C' in prison.
  24. I feel people can only love and tolerate one "version of me". The Lady Boss. The happy, supportive, random/spontaneous, quick, straight-forward girl that will tell you what's up. The girl who appears in control, confident and quite dominant. The girl many men feel threatened by and others chase after because they can't have her. You know this girl with the tucker mouth, but who is insanely intuitive, intelligent, nerdy, with a loud laugh seeming like a cackling hyena. She's not afraid of anything and believes in people. She sees beauty in the smallest things, appreciates art and music. I can accept all of this girl's faults and short-comings. The other girl... the broken-down, depressed, wandering ghost and shell of a person. I hate her. No one likes her, not even me. She's depressed, quiet and feels better alone. She feels hurt extremely easily and is easily startled or frightened. She's a scared caged animal that's been beaten down and abused. The OTHER girl above believes everything she's been through has helped shaped her into a unique, bright, fighter of an individual and made her a better person. This ghost-girl can't let go of the past and wanders in terror into the depths of her racing mind. If I tell close friends who know the Lady Boss, about ghost-girl - they seem to fall away. I'm ghost-girl today and I feel so alone. I was ghost girl yesterday, too. Alone. Which one is me? Both? Do they fight? How could ghost-girl possibly win?
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