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: