Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Outside the Triangle

I am 40 years old.  This day of work has been curious.  I have had two students in the high school where I am employed tell me their deepest troubles.  One has been treading water for too long.  She has had a rough upbringing and in trying to survive her lot at such a young age, she is pregnant and hooked on drugs.  She thinks she has a venereal disease tooHelp for Teens at PP.  This is not a story that catches me off guard anymore, even in a school with high achievers jacked with money.  Yes, we have a school nurse, but these kids aren't about to go through the "appropriate" web of hierarchal channels.  They have seen the mess that makes. Already their trust is broken.  They are not about to enter a system that grinds it to sand and blows it away. 

I am a magnet for these kids.  I am an open book.  They know that I have had hard times, I have taken drugs, partied too hard, hit the ground hard- unable to get up at times.  They know I was abused.  I tell them  so that they can see that it is okay to own that and share it without shame.  I have made it a point to be plain with them.  I take an interest and ask questions which elicit guarded, but honest answers.  The more questions I have asked of the students and the more they have seen that it always remains confidential (minus the overt), the more I am invited into the labyrinth of teen-hood in the 21st century.  I am not surprised although I strongly feel that I should be, that not all that much has changed.  The worst of it is how little has been done in all of the years since I was their age, to do more than just talk about abuse, drugs, pregnancy, mental illness, but to act in ways that allow for them to trust adults enough to have open and honest dialogue that leads to growth, opportunity and finally, foundational building blocks.  

Today, between classes, just as I am headed off to retrieve a student I am working with in the Special Ed Department, a young man who talks with me often at lunch time about his general confusion about how to "be" tells me, with very little introduction, that he has been touching his 10 year old cousin in a grossly inappropriate way.  This stops me dead in my tracks.  I have not heard this one before. 

I find someone to take my student for a walk citing the need to exercise the legality of mandatory reportingWhat's that?.  I would so much rather talk with this student for hours, laying a foundation for him to build his own inquiries about his actions.  I want him to have the chance to think about why he has entered into this behavior before he is shuffled around the system and his thought process gets watered down.  We talk for a while- for just as long as I can steal from upper management before I have to hand him over.  I find that I am asking him many of the same questions I had once asked my step father-my abuser.  I am blown away by the wonder of having the opportunity to engage in this conversation more than once in my life, when many people will never touch upon anything like it. 

In the evening, after talking a walk to unwind my gnarled brain, I look at the day in short- not allowing my brain to become too involved.  My conclusion, always best reached by short analysis, is that this is life.  I cannot make everyone get on board with my way of thinking, so I will have to do what I can to find and hold my own truth and compassion and to find organic connection to all.  My entire spiritual understanding boils down to the fact that, though it sounds ridiculously cliche, we are truly ONE.  What I do effects "all" and what "all" do, effects me.  Simple, with a whole lot of responsibility placed on everyones' shoulders I believe it can be seen to fruition.  I will work within that framework for the rest of my life. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Walking Near Men

I am nine years old.  There has been the same man lurking by the fairground gates every day this week as I walk to and from school.  His eyes follow me like schooling fish every time I pass- piraƱas.  I walk slowly, as if to unflappably feign recognition.  But my insides are a mudslide, everything falling to my stomach, dense and churning.  

Some days I am with my brother, but today I am alone as I round the corner and see him there, despite so many wishes throughout the day- echoes of his catcalls resounding in the catacombs of my prattled mind. There is no place to cross to the other side of the bush-glutted road. This is the only passageway.  It binds the empty lots of the fairgrounds where hollow buildings, tired looking after summer concerts and the state fair, hunker down for the cold season. 

I am approaching where he leans against the gate post, his hands in his jean jacket pockets. Today I walk faster while making my arms fluid by my sides to lessen the obviousness of my fear. But I can't help it. I want to run, but he is like a dog that is waiting to give chase, grimacing and growling with a lowly timbre. 

I am a step or two past him when I see the steely glimmer from my periphery.  I have had nightmares about what he has in his pocket and now its blade is serrated reality as it moves from its sheath.  He is rallying now, behind me.  I think about telling him that I don't have anything.  I don't have anything that he wants-no money, no belongings. 

As he gives chase, I realize I do have something very pubescent and helpless that he wants. I know that what he wants is not something he will take the time to finesse, like my stepfather does.  This man will feed his need for power quickly and ruthlessly. Teach kids about Predator Safety

There is noise- piercing and prolonged- my lungs are pleading for air.  My feet punch the pavement as I sprint.  My arms are a windmill, creating enough balance to keep me upright as I make my escape.  I've lost him.  For now anyway.


My heart still beats hard just writing about this.  I obviously got away, physically unscathed.  I ran screaming- not because I was ever taught to protect myself, hold my head up high, avoid these kinds of situations- I acted in a visceral way and it happened to save me.  I wrote this because so many kids are not taught to be aware of their surroundings, walk with their heads up and tell someone they trust if they think there is danger (also see Another post about near abduction).  This happened to me in the 70's.  Kids still walked home from school alone at all ages and at all times of day and night.  There was very little awareness about much of anything.  I was a prime target- a tiny, shy little girl.  Predators just know when a child is broken enough to go afterPredator Awareness. It was pure luck that he didn't get a chance to follow through with his plan.  I have no idea what happened to him.  I just know that I never saw him again.  I peeked around the corner for the rest of my days living in that town before I carried on.  Even then, I knew fear like never before any time I had to go anywhere alone.

It is a hard call- how and what to teach your kids about safety.  No one wants to scare their children, but what is the alternative?  Here are some excellent resources about just that:

Another post here about near abduction
Educating Children about Child Predators
Great Blog

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I am 42 years old.  Today my mother wanted a hug.  It's been a little rough these past few weeks with some fall-out from a family member who has had to do time in jail.  This matter is connected to our toxic family dynamic and I am feeling protective and angry that there have been too many victims.  I am burned out by the kind of dreams that are propelled by demons past.  It may have seemed to her or to my step father that it was just me who was targeted during his reign, but there has been shrapnel- so much direct and peripheral damage.  I feel like I hold everyone together and yet still, everyone falls apart.

So I could't let her touch me.  I never can if it's her that solicits that kind of intimacy.  If I am in charge, if I initiate, there are embraces at times.  She is so small- truly like a bird in hand.  She feels like a child.  I am always struck bitter by the irony of that.  These past 17 years have been the only years in her life when she has known that this closeness is important.  Sadly, it is too late for her to collect on so many embraces that should have been mine and my brother's long ago.

When my mother touches me, I feel my step father's hands on me.  I feel an ache in my jaw.  I feel a phantom burn of a cigarette on my skin.  I feel pummeled.  I feel abandoned.  I feel a sudden urge to urinate and sometimes I even feel nauseous.  I feel the singe of glass cutting my skin and the cling of fabric to a dotted scab.  I feel the urge to run for my life.  I feel my skin crawl like that of a cat- layers of skin that crawl and slip against each other.  I feel dizzy, blind, deaf and mute.  I feel betrayed.  I smell garbage and think it might be me.  I feel like punching her.

I hate feeling these things after so long, especially that last one.  But I understand and I have long moved past so much of this, allowing myself to just feel what comes and then release it.  I know though, that no matter how much I educate myself, no matter how much I open my heart, I cannot forgive her.  I have decided that I need to allow myself that.  I have forgiven many things and many people.  It is in my nature to do so.  But I need to draw this line with my mother.  We still laugh together.  We talk on the phone.  We have a relationship- on my terms, not because I enjoy proprietary rights, but because that is the only way I know how to do it.

I love my mother.  My soul is healed enough to embrace her in my every day thoughts.  I think she knows that.  When something as beautiful as innocence is so broken and time has not yet healed that completely, the nearness of the heart will have to do.


About Attachment Disorder and PTSD

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Diaper Baby

I am 5 years old. I have crossed my step father and now I am running up the stairs hoping to get to my closet fast enough to hide. I figure if I have gone through all of this trouble to get away and he knows I am scared, he might not bother putting more energy into the chase.  He has never bothered to do much more than yell.  This time, to my surprise, he ascends after me.  I take to the air as he scoops me under his arm and finishes the stairwell.

He is yelling good now.  He says it's time I learn.  I need to know who is in charge.  It will NEVER be me, that's for damn sure.  I don't know this side of him.  Up until now he has been kind, spending lots of time with me in my room.  We have special games that only he and I play together.  My brother gets locked out.  He just goes and plays with his Legos.  He is jealous of the attention that I get and I feel sad for him.  But I feel special.  When my mother is working and then comes home looking sour, I just ignore her because I have a friend in my step father.

But now, he is a stranger when he throws me on my bed and rips my pants off, underwear too.  For a moment, before he bends me over his knee, I think we are going to play our usual games and he will like me again.  That idea is halted by a sharp slap to my legs.  I have never been hit by anyone before.  His assault becomes furious.  His open-handed slaps turn to closed fisted punches.  My tiny body bends and jerks.  I can't find my breath anymore as he knocks it out of me over and over. 

I am aware of a warm wetness now.  Am I bleeding?  Am I bleeding?  I must be bleeding.  I enter into  a whole new level of hysteria.  He pushes me to the floor and I roll- each turn pressuring different aches.  The bottom of my shirt is wet, the rug is damp.  He takes his jeans off and pushes my face into the cold fabric and then stands tall, balls them up and whips them at me.  He tells me I am disgusting and even though I don't know how, he commands me to clean this piss up while he goes to look for a diaper for the big baby that I am.  Only babies pee their pants.


During the few years that led to this first introduction to fear, my step father had been "grooming" me. This is a tactic used by predators. In the last stages before the perpetrator finally gets what he/she is after without fear of being exposed, things get scary very quickly... 

Here is a link that talks about the six stages of "Grooming":

Monday, April 2, 2012

After the Stick Turned Blue

I am 30 years old.  Dear God, I am pregnant.  My daughter is six years old and in my scarred womb lies a beautiful soul who will be my ruin.  I have been a fool, inviting a new life and now I know that I must send it back.  The memory of my daughter's birth haunts me by the second as I envision this tiny dot becoming a screaming, flailing life. The guilt I feel over having invited this upon myself and my family is  crushing because I know I cannot carry it through. 

My husband and I have already told our families that we are expecting.  When the test came out positive, I became a robot.  I exited the bathroom, called my husband who rejoiced and foolishly, we spread the news.  Everyone is over the moon.  But by nightfall, a familiar beast is creeping in- one that no one else can detect but me.  Just as suddenly as my mind snapped when my daughter arrived, it has tuned out all reason now.  I am going crazy again, just when I have gotten back on my feet.

I tell my husband, in the dark of night, as I sit on the couch trying to speak above the voices in my head, that I cannot imagine how I will possibly live through another bout of Post-partum Psychosis.  I hadn't thought it would happen again, but as my hormones fertilize the new sprout of insanity, I realize I have been ignorant. My step father's voice is already coming through in waves, like a radio frequency almost dialed in.

There is nothing more in the world that I want more than to get this over with- to make his voice go.  I need my body to myself. I need my mind back. I had no idea it would go this fast.  I need to get this done so I can pretend like it never happened.  I need to draw pictures with my daughter, take walks and smile.  I cannot do that until I am gutted.  I am so sorry.  I have never been so sorry in all of my life.

I beg the practitioner to see me immediately.  She says there is an appointment as soon as next week.  I am flushed with panic.  A week will see me to the loony bin.  I can't allow time to make this real.  This has to happen today, tomorrow at the latest.  My voice must be convincing because she puts me on hold to see what she can do.

I can come in tomorrow.  I thank her profusely.  I stand outside of myself and take notice of the perversity of this transaction.  I am thanking her for helping me to kill my child in a timely manner.  I hate me.  She must be disgusted with me, even though it's her job not to judge.  My husband is grieving and I can't look at him, my shame is infinite.  Our families are kind, not wanting to see me fail and knowing that either way, I did.  My unborn child will look down upon me as it ascends in its ethereal body and cry out for me.  I will here its cries every day for the rest of my life. 

All of this I know, but what I know with everything that I am and everything that I have been is that if I carry on with this pregnancy, I will die and leave my six year old child motherless.  If only I had known this before the stick turned blue.

I shared this- my deepest guilt and sadness, because it is another experience woven into my tapestry of abuse stories that I think is important to acknowledge. Hard things are important to acknowledge. It brings important issues to light. 

We all have our opinions about abortion. We all have something to answer to within our morality. Every woman who has ever had an abortion has had to face doing something unmentionable. But, please, let us not judge, lest we be judged. I do not believe it is my job to judge and damn others. I cannot imagine pretending to know what is behind other peoples' actions. I can feel sad or angry, but I try hard to feel these things with an open mind and heart. I guess it is time for me to feel these things for myself.

Here is a link for anyone who has or is suffering from Post Abortion Stress Syndrome:

Saturday, March 31, 2012


I am 13 years old.  My stepfather is not as interested in my blooming body anymore, so now he leaves me in a careless pile- dirty laundry to be kicked about the room and eventually under the bed.  When he needs something, he digs me back out and tries to launder me into something wearable again.  I just don't suit him anymore though, no matter how he tries to alter me.  I have grown too big and the more he tries me on, the more ragged and soiled I become, again to be shed and tossed to the floor.  He fuels his needs with brutality now- leaving me pained and terrified.  Somehow, even clothed, I feel more naked and used up than ever before.

Because I am useless beyond the chores that I do, I am allowed to see my best friend more often.  I think he likes to send me off with her knowing that I would never dare speak of so many years of molding, finessing, oppressing.  We both know that his terror tactics will keep his doings deeply cellared. 

 At a restaurant with my best friend's family, she and I hit the bathroom for some lipgloss and giggles.  When I am with her, things are lighter of heart and lesser of mind.  While she is in the stall,  I look at myself in the mirror to check the makeup she applied earlier.  I lock my gaze with the stranger I see.  So many times I have caught glimpses of her, only to look away, as strangers will do.  But today, we meet in this bathroom, through this mirror, and it is clear we will finally get to know one another.  We hear my friend chattering as though she is in another room, so far from our minds as we settle deeper into each the other.  She tells me something.  I am caught off guard by her frankness.  I am shocked to hear her outright disclosure.  I realize she is correct.  I say it out loud.  I think there is something wrong.

It is quiet now.  I am aware of the humming fluorescent lights, voices droning in the restaurant, the rolling of toilet paper as my friend scurries to finish up and come to me.  The stranger in the looking glass recedes and I see myself very clearly now.  I have been abused.  I have endured an exquisite hell.  My life has been uniquely perverse.  There have been so many violations that I cannot speak of just one.  When I tell my friend that I think I am being abused, it is with the same wonder and disbelief of having seen something rare- an unfamiliar and boldly marked butterfly.  I know it is right before my eyes.  There is that familiar sense of wonder.   It fans its wings, unafraid of inspection and then takes flight, bobbing in the invisible and minute currents that only the memory of a truth can ride. 

I meet my friend's eye as she emerges from the stall and rushes to me.  Now I know.  She knows too.  What should we do now?  I keep my eye on the horizon as my butterfly drifts out of sight.  I have committed to memory this oft undetected creature.  Of this sighting, I am sure.  There is nothing to do but to carry on.  Dinner is waiting.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Bitter Taste of Everything

I am 14 years old.  In the bathroom nearest the kitchen I wretch as loudly as I can so my mother will hear.  The deeper my fingers tap and dig my throat the more my back arches as I attempt to eject everything- food and memories that come to me fast and hard these days.  My eyes bulge with the effort.  My face reddens and sweats with labor.  My abdomen pulses as my shoulders pull together, straining every muscle.  Since there is nothing on the outside of me to make my mother love me, maybe my insides, to my own peril, will be enough.  


After a couple of months of these desperate attempts to make my mother love me, to care and inquire, I gave up.  I continued to use this method (Bulimia), intermittently along with cutting.  It was never about my body image. It was always about feeling dirty inside and out. 

""... sexual abuse may initiate a pattern of dealing with emotional distress that brings a high likelihood of bulimia. Young bulimics share both emotional secrecy and profound guilt with many victims of sexual abuse. It is possible that for some patients, this emotional style begins with the abusive experience. This psychological style may be an important focus for psychotherapy."

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder, Physical Abuse, Mental illness

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Darkness Either Way

I am nine years old.  My closet scares me.  I close its door, but it pops open in the night.  This old farmhouse moves its energy around as it pleases.  The closet is narrow and deep- a demon's den.  But I am willing to seek its farthest depths in trade for respite from what I know of life.

When my stepfather comes into my room, I hold my breath and watch the green swirls that are born of total darkness.  If he hears me breathe, what nightmares will be mine in waking hours that are worse than this closet?  If I move, what darkness deeper than this closet will befall me?  If I blink, what visions in the day will be mine to own worse than those which I encountered in this black box? 

I sit here every day, all day, for a week.  I hear him ranting in the house- where the hell have I gone off to?  There are chores to do.  I know. There are duties to perform.  I know I will face his wrath when I emerge.  My jaw will ache with the angry insistence of his loins.  My scalp will sear after the punishing grip of his hand in my hair.  My knees will bleed as they rasp the floor with his every thrust.  But still, I will hide, for as long as I can.  I will learn to love the dark and the apparitions I once feared, because nothing is more terrifying than the world outside. 

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder, Physical Abuse, Mental illness

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I am 13 years old.  I have met a boy at our summer camp.  I can't stop thinking about him.  Every time we are together, I don't know what to say or do.  It feels awkward, like walking in mud.  But, when we are apart I just want to be with him again.  He is the son of a wealthy camper here, so my mother doesn't stop me from my evening swims with him at the communal dock.  My stepfather is strangely detached.  He just tells me I will never belong to anyone but him, so go ahead and try- darkness will fall. 

Tonight we are sitting at the end of the dock, watching the sun set.  Our hands are folded together like paired swans.  We are silent and that seems okay as long as the sun sinks slowly and the clouds change shape- as long as something is in purposeful motion.  When the sun is in repose, there is a lull.  He reaches his hand around to my side and pokes me.  I screech, which he takes as a sign to dig in and give me a more thorough tickling.  This goes on until my begging for respite is finally heard.

He hops to his feet and I tell him there is no way I am getting up until he backs several feet away.  I am quite sure that he is ramped up enough to push me in the water.  He does as he is told, only he keeps walking backwards as if he might turn and run into the darkness, so I scramble to my feet and run to catch up with him.  He holds his arms out wanting me to jump into them and I am elated as I take flight.  He lifts me by the underarms and I am teetering on his shoulder at my waist.  I am suspended for the briefest moment, supported by his pubescent arms which then give way and I see the concrete of the dock as my landing place.  I tuck in time to miss cracking my head open and roll through the fall.  I hear something crack and splinter.  I lay on my back and check in with my limbs, my neck, my back.  I guess I am okay. 

He takes my hand to pull me up but a piercing jolt in my shoulder lays me out.  He kneels by my side and winces as his gaze hovers at my shoulder.  My hand searches for the damage and finds a paper thin stretch of skin over a collar bone that has snapped in half.  It starts to hurt now, after an initial fuzzy sensation.  I roll to my good side and get to my feet.  I need to go home.  I need medical attention.

At the camp my mother and stepfather are reading under mothy lamps.  I am holding my arm as still as possible.  They look up and see that I am look shock-ish and then look back at their books and finish their chapters before my mother asks what my problem is.  I tell her I think my shoulder is broken and show her where the bone is threatening to pop through the skin.  She agrees.  My stepfather doesn't even get up from his chair.  I got myself into this mess, when I knew all along where I belonged, I would have to get myself out.

I go to bed.  I lay on my back, afraid to breath for the searing pain that multiplies with each inhale.  My body shakes and I feel clammy.  Will this heal on its own?  The night dawdles- measured by nothing- endless.  Sleep never quells my burning eyes.

The sun creeps back to life, fingers of light grasping trees and pulling the glowing orb into the open sky.  Still, I lay flat, waiting for morning sounds in the camp.  After a while, my stepfather enters my room.  In the early morning, he tells me I should never have forgotten my place.  I am his property and this is what I get for thinking otherwise.  When he gets around to it sometime this week, he might take me to the hospital.  I never see my first love again. 


I went to the hospital within a couple of days day.  The bone had started healing and had to be detached and then set again.  My stepfather told them that our religion (what religion?) didn't allow for pain killers.  There was no argument from anyone and the bone was only half-way reset because I vomited on the doctor.  Now I have a crooked collarbone that sometimes feels sharp and achy. It is another physical reminder of how it didn't matter whether he hit me or not, broke my bones with his own hands- he still held my fate with an iron fist.

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder, Physical Abuse, Mental illness

Monday, March 12, 2012

Small Blue Home

I am 16 years old.  The little blue Dodge Colt has been sitting by the barn for a year now.  It was meant to be my brother's, but now he lives with my dad full-time and because of some infraction on his part the car is now mine.  It's a stick shift.  I had an hour's worth of instruction about how to drive a standard in driver's ed, but I don't care about my blunders as I work the wheel and pick up a friend and lurch toward the city.  It is my birthday- the dead of winter, and I don't care how I make my get-away, I am free.

This car sees me to the city many times, most of the time drunk and high.  It is my time machine- taking me to places far from what I have known- making everything disappear into a muddled past.  I am willing to let my former days feel like ages gone by.

When spring comes, I park my car at the town beach and sleep in it.  I have clothes and snacks- most of which I have stolen.  I live in my car.  It's a step up from sleeping in the streets.  And that was a step up from being under my parents' roof.  

 Under my sleeping bag, on a cold Vermont morning and sporting a hazy hang-over, I realize this is not exactly paradise.  But, it is damn close.

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder, Physical Abuse, Mental illness

Sunday, March 11, 2012

No Dummy

I am 17 years old.  I am sitting across from my father in a chinese restaurant.  I have felt uneasy since his invitation- just him and me.  I don't talk much to my dad. I don't talk much to anyone except my boyfriend and a handful of others.  My father induces immense anxiety.  I have never been what he had hoped I would be.

I received my first college letter in the mail.  It was a denial to my own state university.  The punch to the gut is that my father is a tenured professor there.  I should have been a shoe-in.

He tells me that I will have to face the reality that I am just not up to potential.  Perhaps I am just not not college material.  Maybe I should look into vocational schools or something of the like.  I push food around my plate, spiced by my tears.  he doesn't believe in me.  I don't believe in me either, but it still hurts because he is supposed to.  I have nothing to say and the rest of the meal is spent in silence creased by his overt sighs of disappointment.

I decline my weekend visit with him and my stepmother.  I cannot take anymore of his disdain- his bitter disapproval over not having inherited his genius.  I would rather stay with my mother and stepfather- they don't have much to say because we all avoid each other with great care after the great uncovering of my detail laden journal depicting my rage against my very own in-home tormentor.  I am, these days, choosing the lesser of the two evils in terms of where I will lay my head each night- each a small degree away from the same oppression.

Days pass and I wrack my mind for a way to make enough money to travel far, far away.  My glass shards help me to think more clearly and I have various stages of scarred flesh to show for it.  I keep my other unopened college letters in the same box.  I have not numbed myself enough to be able to receive any more rejection.

Finally, after a good deep sculpting of the word "loser" on the inside of my thigh, I fan the blood dry with a letter that I am preparing to open.  There are three.  Each one has a matching piece of glass with which to confirm my failure.  The last glass scalpel is the sharpest and my plan for myself with that one is permanent.

My leg is dry and the raised droplets are a nice brick color.  I enjoy the rashy feeling as I rise to sit on my bed and inch my finger under the flap of the first envelope- Boston University.

 Accepted.  I am welcomed to Mass Art, Boston College and Portland School of Art as well.  Huh, what do you know?

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder, Physical Abuse

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not Crazy

I am 28 years old.  I have found a psychiatrist close to home whom I genuinely like. I trust her- not an easy feeling to come by for me.  She has assessed me over the course of many visits.  Up to this point I have tried more drugs in my forays to the hospital than I can keep track of.  I am settled groggily on an antidepressant, an antipsychotic and an excessive amount of anti-anxiety medication.  I am addicted to the latter two and feel hopeless about ever purging them from my bloated body and blackish mind.  This kind and gifted woman has assured me that we will find the right medications and that I won't have to go back to the hospital in order to do it.  I remember her words from my passenger seat in the car and hold onto hope for the first time since I lost my mind.

At my next visit, I ask my husband to come in to the office with me.  I want him to write down the new medications I will be taking and the plan that will be put in place for the various titrations.  As we all sit and talk this over I realize that besides the obvious, I have no idea what is truly wrong with me.  I don't know what she writes in her notes- my file is getting fat already.

I ask her what her scribbles say, what my diagnoses are.  She is taken aback, having thought that I would have known.  I do not know that I have Major Depressive Disorder with brief psychotic features and suicidal tendencies, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder with Agoraphobic tendencies, Acute Stress Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Severe Dissociative Disorder, Depersonalization Disorder and Adjustment Disorder.  Most of these labels, these curses, are not something I am familiar with. I knew I was depressed and nervous, but now I see my new life, after falling apart, as a massive ball of string that will never be unraveled and then re-skeined.  I feel hopeless and overwhelmed, yet there is a peace that comes with knowing that my label is not "crazy". There are words for and order to my issues and I know that together we will pull at this mound of fibers until it loosens some.  In this lifetime, perhaps I will see the end to the task, or at least learn to weave my own patterns, make my own fabric with which to adorn myself.


With every diagnosis comes a prognosis, for better or for worse. With any one of these psychiatric disorders, the prognosis can be near to full recovery.  Truly, these disorders are not a sentence. With a lot of work, one can begin to arrive back in the world, be it within a year or many years. For some, all hope is lost and these disorders become disease and the future is grim, indeed. 

Now I take medication for depression, which is well controlled, as well as the anti-anxiety meds, simply because I cannot get off of them. My body is severely addicted to this drug. This summer I plan to implement the help of a natural-path to finally get this drug out of my system without debilitating withdrawals. I am very hopeful. 

For me, it was important to understand what I was up against.  My doctor warned me that people can get obsessed with their diagnoses and create a further vacuum into the abyss that these disorders can create in conjunction with a hyper-vigilant mind. I took this to heart and waited until I was more steady before I looked up the meanings of my disorders. 

I guess I wish to carry that warning through to anyone who might be reading this as they are just beginning their journey with medications and doctors. Find someone you trust and let them do their job. Keep yourself informed about your meds and treatment, but don't over do it. Words are powerful and what we say to ourselves is taken literally by our brains. Educate yourself, but don't buy into your lot as hopeless. I am extremely functional now and have been for many years. You can be too.

Here is an excellent webpage with clinical descriptions of these disorders and more:

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder, Physical Abuse

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hell Fire

I am eight years old.  My stepfather is blowing cigarette smoke into my face from his seat across from me.  He is furious with me for meekly telling him that his smoking in the car makes me sick.  I asked if maybe he could roll the windows down.  But he makes the rules, he knows what is best for me and my brother, and he will not be spoken to as though he is filth. 

If I blink, he will smoke another.  He has already smoked most of his pack.  My eyes burn and tear up and then become dry.  I will myself not to, but I blink every time- especially when he leans closer to my face and blows hard. 

He thinks I am weak.  Now he has smoked most of his cigarettes and it is my fault that they are dwindling.  I will have to do extra chores to pay him back.  I feel sick to my stomach.  I am going to throw up.  I lurch toward the bathroom only to meet his iron hand with my chest.  I fly back into my chair as vomit fills my mouth and throat as I try to swallow and begins to dribble from the corners of my frown.  Another wave takes me and I explode.  Now, more than the overwhelming discomfort of choking and sputtering, I am terrified.  Messes are simply not tolerated. 

For a long time, the room is a smoggy illusion.  Time has slowed.  I dare not move.  He is inspecting me.  He is quiet in the way that I know is unpredictable.  He might be bored, he might leave.  He might be thinking of a way to make me work off the mess I have made.

He is at the end of his cigarette- the foul culprit for which I  have had to answer.  He reaches for the ashtray.  I am unprepared as his reach goes beyond the heap of butts and plants the scorching stick into my foot.  At first it doesn't register as a sensation that I recognize and then it is the sting of some preposterous hell-spider.  The smell of flesh reaches my nose and overpowers the stench in the room.  I am loud in my lament, but we both know that no one can hear.   He has given the cigarette one last twist to extinguish it completely.  He pockets the last of his pack, takes his ashtray and begins to leave, but not before telling me to clean every spot of my own sickness, unless I want my other foot to match.

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder, Physical Abuse

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Like Clockwork

I am ten years old.  At school, I am watching the clock, willing the hands to move.  If I pack my things quickly maybe I can get home in time.  The bell rings, I push my chair in and make my day to the door.  Most of the kids had the same idea and since I sit quietly in the back of the room, I am now shuffling my feet wishing I could step forward into a desperate run.

I need to get going before the older boy comes up behind me on his bike and harasses me.  I need to run and when he bothers me I have to walk so he doesn't chase me. 

Today, I have lucked out.  I have made it all the way to the back porch.  I am searching behind the railing for the key.  I need to get in.  I manage not to drop it this time and dance as I insert it into the old lock.  I crash through the door, leaving it open, even though it is winter.  I make it half way down the hall before my bladder lets go and I pee my pants.  The flow rushes like an opened dam and is relentless while I wet through my clothes just as I have every day this month. 


I hated having to raise my hand to ask to go to the bathroom at school- I was painfully shy. That kind of shyness is a form of anxiety.  I didn't use the facilities during lunch or recess because I felt like it was too close for comfort with so many other girls in there, laughing, putting on lip gloss.  It was just another torturously awkward event for me, so I held it all day in order to avoid my anxiety.

Something about turning that key was symbolic for my body.  Why it couldn't wait even thirty more seconds is still a mystery to me.  All I knew was that it was just one more thing that I was sure was disgusting and different about me. 

Symptoms of Anxiety in Children

Children with anxiety may have difficulty with relationships with friends, parents and teachers and perform poorly in school. Symptoms of anxiety in children may lead to serious mental health disorders if not treated, and include personality changes, problematic behaviors and emotional outbursts. Consider these facts from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration about the symptoms of anxiety in children.


  • Children with anxiety who were previously potty trained may begin wetting or soiling their pants during the day or night.
Read more: Symptoms of Anxiety in Children | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_4867655_symptoms-anxiety-children.html#ixzz1oTmDpyvW
From: http://www.ehow.com/facts_4867655_symptoms-anxiety-children.html

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder

Monday, March 5, 2012

At Least for Now

I am nine years old.  My daddy and his companion, my brother and me are on a camping trip.  My father has been very persuasive against my stepfather's complaints and excuses about why I shouldn't go. I am, after all, his daughter when it suits him. I hold no bitterness as we drive through the border to Canada and find a landing from which to launched our canoe for an all day paddle to the farthest away, untouched beach we can find.  I am little, so I don't have to paddle. I revel in this time of rest- my body wracked by the constant labor beneath my stepfather.   I lay on the bottom of the canoe on a blanket with the dog and watch tree tops come and go, some reaching down to tickle the waters edge.  The shore ripples with laughter in these places and sometimes a frog will leap or a fish will break the surface after a gnat, and the hilarity is all the more. I think nature has a sense of humor and beauty and all of these creatures are so much more than the inferior lifeforms that school teaches us about.  For the first time in my life I am at perfect rest and supreme peace.  I wish we could glide forever in this pointed vessel.  Life up until now, endured mostly with my mother and stepfather has been toxic and I have indeed, been poisoned.  None of that matters in this pristine moment.

The water hastens from each stroke of a paddle and slaps the sides of the boat as my brother and my father find a rhythm.  My brother, usually sullen, is almost smiling within his meditative regard.  My father's girlfriend, whom I love like a mother, is humming to herself and my father chuckles and remarks that she can't carry a note in a bucket.  She swats at him and he pretends to mistakenly splash her with his paddle.  Their laughter is music, not too loud, and perfect for dancing along through serene waters. We all settle back into our minds' daydream creations.  I think about that saying, can't carry a note in a bucket. I have never heard that before.  My dad is a smart man. 

The aluminum of the canoe captures the echoed brisling din of landing.  The sand is Earth's hands holding our vessel fast.  The dog stirs and skitters about until he receives the command from my father to jump ship.  He is frenzied as he hits the water, running in great Irish Setter strides along the shore. My father lives in a city.  I have never seen the dog unleashed and the energy of his joy is contagious as we all unfurl our cramped bodies and abandon ship with our bare feet and rolled up pants.  The water is a tepid bath for our slipshod feet.  The sand is a masseuse.  The sun is a warm embrace that welcomes us here.  The promise of a week here, in this paradise, is the antidote to all things past and the assurance of a better future.

We set about making this place our home.  My father whistles and we all work within his merriment, each instinctively knowing our jobs.  We gather gear from the boat.  My brother and father work together to erect tents.  I gather sticks and dry tinder.  My father's beloved builds a fire pit and ties food to a pulley over a tree branch.  There is not much more daylight left, but we are harmonious in our doings- all is as it should be.

Late at night after our campfire meal and songs accompanied by kazoos, jaw-harps and spoons and a lot of laughter, we take to our tents.  We will not sleep in them.  Instead we drag our sleeping bags near to the shore where the softest sand becomes our cradles.  We have come to see the biggest meteor shower in all of time.  

In the warm embrace of my downy cocoon, I see my first falling star and my breath catches with something more than surprise.  I reach my hand to the sky and wait for the next to fall into my hand.  We are so close to the sky, that many times that night, I capture this miraculous star-stuff and even though I have never been taught religion, I now know there is an absolute being.  I know there is something I cannot see that will bring me strength.  I know that I will some day know how to feel safe.  I know with every cell in my body and every current of my mind that no matter how poisonous my life has been and even though I have no false hope that I will not have to go back to my captor, I will always have the stars. 

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attachment Disorder

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Don't Touch Me

I am 29 years old.  I have been married for five years and a mother for a little less than that.  More than likely there won't be any more children for me.  I can't allow my husband to be near me.  At first I think I am just getting back on my feet after a torturous birth followed by the subsequent bearing of my inner demons.  I am wobbly on my mother-feet. I am a hyper-vigilant demon suppressor.

There is a lot of discontent between my husband and me.  He is affectionate.  I am cold.  An embrace makes my skin crawl, holding hands is a trap.  Sex is unthinkable.  In looking back I realize I have always been this way to some extent.  I have always thought it to be a compulsion born of the freedom to make my own decisions about how my body will be handled now that I am free from my childhood. But why, really, do I not choose these pleasant endearments like everyone else does?  It has never made sense, but at all cost I have avoided the confusion of feeling so fearful about such affections by never being in the same room as my husband, certainly not the bedroom. 

The only person in my life whom I can hold and who's hand fits in mine in such a fateful way that I never want to let go is my daughter. When she beckoned to me from the cosmos, all things were possible- the instinct to bring her forth made love-making tolerable- even pleasant. I have noticed that my brother is the same way, a new man around his son, affectionate and  amenable- not his usual grumpy, distant self.  I have spent many a cup of tea with his wife, trying to answer to his cool resolve to stay away from her, yet keep her near. I realize now that I do it too and therein lies a commonality that cant be denied.

We were orphans amongst family. We were driven apart as siblings. We were distanced from peers. We toiled with our bodies, until we couldn't feel them anymore. My body was sullied by perversity, his by violence.  Somewhere along the line, we left our bodies behind and found sanctity in dissociation. It served us so well- such perfectly invisible mind-armor.  Now we don our mental chain-mail - impervious to dangers that are no longer a real threat. Formative years of never being held, never being tenderly kissed, never having our hands taken by protective adults, never being tucked in- never being loved have made us inaccessible. We seem forever locked away in a turret guarded by memories past, defense mechanisms present. 

I work on the premise that what our children don't know won't hurt them, until the fighting begins. I have no excuses.  I don't know why our perfect love is so ruined by this invisible haunt who whispers untruths to me. I hear it warn that if my husband holds me I will have to feel something unfamiliar.  I am told that this waxing discomfort will escalate into irreconcilable alarm, pain, panic, breakdown and as always a marathon mind-meander to a place I cannot come back from at will.  

My life is perfect and it is ruined.

I finally realized that I was like those orphans who are left in their cribs only to receive the absolute least care and affection they can get in order to survive. After reading about a study that revealed that these children developed severe aversion to being held and looked at- even spoken to, I began to look at my own life as a child. There was no love. There was no affection. The touch that I received was destructive to say the least. In my marriage, it was safe to say no.  The body memories rushed me, panicked me and the only answer was to heed what my instincts told me- touching was bad.

It was my brother who eventually put a name to it- Attachment Disorder:

"Also known as a reactive attachment disorder, attachment disorder in adults is a problem that begins in the most impressionable years of childhood and manifests itself over time into adulthood in a much severe form. The reason for this may be neglect by parents, separation from parents due to death or divorce, or physical or sexual abuse during childhood. Due to these circumstances, children slowly develop feelings of detachment, in that they fail to form long and lasting relationships with anyone and find trusting even their close ones difficult. If not checked at the right time, this continues into adulthood, and ultimately becomes a serious psychological disorder. Fortunately, treatment is possible to a certain extent and is extremely important at the earliest, simply because it is relationships that form the important bonds in life and every effort should be made to nurture and maintain them. Moreover, the symptoms of this disorder may become severe enough to lead to dangerous self-destructive behavior."
From http://www.buzzle.com/articles/attachment-disorder-in-adults.html

In the words of a good friend to which I agree to: These guys have a very robust and non-deterministic theory, in other words they identify factors that contribute to attachment difficulties, no matter how extreme AND believe that there is a way of offering help. happy to disagree on this, there is no single "correct" theory and certainly no easy answers, that don't involve personal pain and despair. 

Also from my friend: This is Margaret Warner who has formulated a person-centred, non medicalised process model of distress. We can all have something like fragile process at difficult times but it is very evident amongst people who have trauma and abuse in their histories. She's one of the sanest, least egotistic people that I have come across in this field.
Download the Podcasts Audio Books | Margaret Warner Fragile Process

Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Self-harm, Cutting, Depression, Survivor, Survivor of childhood abuse, Postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, OCD, Recovered memories, Repressed memories, Spousification, Stockholm Syndrome, Suicide, Teen Suicide, bullying, drug abuse, incest, memoir, Attachment Disorder, reactive Attchment Disorder