Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chores

I am eleven years old.  I have open blisters on my hands and my knees are hardened shells of blood and dirt. I have been mowing the lawns, pulling weeds, and raking for hours. My body is one pulsating muscle- I am lithe with this servitude coupled with no lunch. This is a typical Saturday, I am slaving after my morning meeting with my step father and my Buddy.


More and more my step father wants me to work instead of wear my nighty. When he says I am growing up and becoming a woman, he looks me up and down like I am a someone he just met and doesn't approve of.  I am glad not to have to have to hide the face that I can't help but make whenever I have to use my mouth to play with Buddy. Things are changing- mostly he hates me now. He fills all of my time with chores. Tomorrow I will scrub all of the walls in the house since I didn't do a good job the first time. I never do a good job. There is always a mark here or there and that is an abomination. It is always even dirtier than before I started. How do I manage that? A blow upside the head accompanies his third degree. I will make a horrible wife some day. It is his job to teach me how to do things right the first time. It is his job to teach me what happens to bad wives who don't do good work.


I wonder what other kids are doing. I have heard them talking at school about slumber parties, going swimming, boating, cook-outs. I have swam a lot at the camp we live in in the summers. I have even gone on a boat. I even have a real friend from my grade. She lives with foster parents on her grandparents estate and I am allowed to stay the night sometimes. Of course, if I talk about my real best friend, Buddy, I will never see her again. I am not sure if he means that he will do what he says he will do to my brother and kill her, so I keep my mouth shut. If I get my chores done by nightfall, maybe I can call her up and spend the night again.


I hear voices on the road- they sound like kids my age. They are on bikes and have stopped, as they often do at the pull-off just after our front yard to drink from their water bottles. My throat is a narrowed and dusted path to my lungs. I want water more than to draw air. It is a visceral need that I cannot attend to as I am drowning in breathlessness.


I recognize the girls from school. They are nice to me when they include me in jumping rope. They are patient with the fact that I don't talk much. I sometimes wish they will just be mean so I don't have to wrestle my face out of my hair to look at them. It is hard to use the muscles in my face that make a pseudo-smile. They see me now and wave me over. I look around for my step father. He is always there, even when he isn't. I see him standing by the screen door- out of their sight. He juts his head in their direction and I know my job is to be polite and cheerful while I tell them, in essence, to bug off.  I even toss in a lie about how we are getting ready for company and then later a boat ride and a swim if the water is good. They launch their bikes as they wave. He slips back into the house and I wish for things that do not exist for me and let those hopes fly away as fast as they come.


When I am doing chores and my step father leaves to run an errand, I find friends by the pond out back. There are sheep from the neighbors' farm that wander to our pond for water. There is a cow that my brother and I have named Wilber who just had a baby. My best friend, by far, is the fence gate that swings as I saddle it up with an old blanket and use twine to make it my pony.  I can feel his spring hair shedding away.  I can smell his pepperoni pony smell. I can make him gallop away with me, never to return. He takes me to places where there are no weeds and no wood to stack. He takes me to a still pasture and I lean over to bury my face in his mane as he grazes. I love him. I am at rest and nothing hurts- not even my feelings.


I hear the truck on the road. I move fast to dismount. My rake is nearby and I climb out of the gully as though I have been pulling a wad of grass clippings down into it. I smile at him and tell him I love him as he climbs out of the truck looking suspicious and appraising the lawn. I call him Daddy and give him my sweetest smile, trying to be a baby doll because I know he loved me small. He is temporarily satisfied and I have done his bidding today.  He tells me to rake the lawn again, it isn't done right and then walks up the stairs and into the house with his cold Pepsi- the sight of which makes my throat clam p down even harder. The lawn sprawls endlessly before me. It is a field of perfect green grass. It is my master's plantation, big as the world. I set my bloodstained rake to earth and leave my pony to pasture.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Buddy

Warning- Strong Sexual Content




I am seven years old. It is Saturday and my mother is at a weekend conference. My brother is at my father's house. Lots of times he gets to go and I stay here.  My step father tells me I am his favorite, so I don't have to go there as much- I can stay at home, safe with him.


Spring is here and the sun is soothing the bleak, hardened sting of cold days gone by.  There are hundreds of newborn and irritable cluster flies bumbling on the picture window that overlooks the back yard. I am becoming familiar with the ritual that we observe in this new house. I help him make the bed he sleeps in with my mother. The flies are, at first, white noise.  Then they are the sound of hysteria. They are mimicking something deep inside of me as preparations are being made.


Since it is morning, I am already dressed in my nighty- a shear pale peach colored number that makes my mother hate me. She doesn't ever say those words, but she gives voice to them them with her eyes every time she finds it in the laundry or catches me running from the bathroom after a bath that he has lent a hand in.  Even though her cleaving gazes break me and I feel covered in the grime that I am, I wish she is here now. When she is here she is sometimes the screen to the storm door that is my step father. Right now, the door is unhinged. There are two days ahead, alone with him.


By the time I am back with a towel he is laying supine on his side of the bed. Usually he stands at the foot of the bed and I kneel on the towel.  He is smoking a cigarette. He is always smoking- a pepsi bottle forever occupying the rest of his grip. That is his smell- my perfume. He says I am a part of him when he smells my hair. That's how the show always begins.


He always removes his belt slowly. His pants surge with each deliberate move. He likes taking that belt off. He tells me it is exciting because he gets to share his body with me and I can show him how much I appreciate it. Today he seems especially lofty and he proposes we name his penis so we can be even closer, all three of us. He tells me that Buddy is a perfect name, isn't it? Yes, Daddy. Don't I want to touch him? Yes, Daddy.


This day is different and the same. I touch Buddy, I stroke Buddy. But today my step father's hand is on the back of my head, pulling my face to his underworld. I see a droplet of pee coming out of it and I tell him maybe he needs to go to the bathroom. I know I am not allowed to be in control. I know I could pay dearly for this, but I have taken my chances because I sense that he is in one of his more tolerant moods. His grin tells me that he is loose and he bears no malice. He wants to show me, to teach me- he is important when he is the expert. He is forgiving in his role of mentor. He tells me it isn't pee, it's honey. It is sweet and he and Buddy have made it just for me. He carefully applies it to his finger and puts it in his mouth. He says he likes it and I will too. The only way for me to get more is to put my mouth around Buddy.  Goodness knows there is not a kid alive who won't do anything for candy.











Ingrate

I am eleven years old. Last night we had TV dinners and the night before we had pork chops. Now I am surveying bones. These are the bones that we put in the compost after dinner two nights ago. There are bits and pieces of canned peas and what-not from the week's spoils. Usually I get cereal and milk and eat on my own- sometimes with my brother. It is before dawn and everyone else is still asleep. The garbage on my plate stinks. I am discomfited.


My step father takes his place across from me in his sacrosanct manner. His hands are plaited together, resting upon the table. His head is jouncing up and down. He is incredulous. I am puzzled, but I am beginning to put some pieces together. Sometimes I can wane and leave my body at the scene of whatever he is prescribing. Other times, when he requires something so immeasurable,  I am agonizingly present.


He casts out a hot sigh. I swear I can feel it curl about my face- I am ensconced in his poison. I have done something heinous again. I have deeply offended his sensibilities and I need to do my penance.  I sense though, that I will have to confess first and I am searching myself for words.


Yes sir, I enjoyed these pork chops the other night. Yes Daddy, I understand how hard he works to pay for our food. I feel my mother's love and care when she prepares our meals. I try to clean my plate. I try to eat  just exactly as he has taught my brother and me. He wants to know why, then, do I waste food? Why am I such an ingrate?


I'm sorry, Daddy. I ate all of my food. This is a bone- I can't eat that.  I am inspecting the grey carnage on my plate- three grisly wastes- some fat hanging off. My stomach is flitting about. I am actually thinking about what would happen if I asked to be excuse form the table, like after any meal. A long silence issues and blankets us. The distance between him and me is closing as I wait to hear what I know he is about to say.


He tells me to eat my breakfast. We do not waste food in this house.


I eat garbage- rancid flesh.







Friday, January 27, 2012

Function

I am 18 years old. I am living in Portland, Maine with my boyfriend. We have moved into our own scanty apartment. Some friends are another block over. Things are good. I have a year of college behind me and a hot summer ahead. I have a job at a bakery in the old port.  It's an easy enough affair and it feeds us and a lot of homeless folks too because I drop bags of day-old pastries and breads on street corners. It's a step up from Kraft Mac & Yak and Ramen noodles. We have just what we need to support our smoking habit- I am up to more than a pack a day. We steal boxes of cigarettes up our sleeves- haven't gotten caught yet. Addiction is the mother of greed.


My first year of college slapped me semi-lucid. There were moments of connection with newfound friends and engaging projects. But for the most part I was still the dissociated zombie I have been all of my life. Getting away from my step father and mother has been the best thing that ever happened to me, of course. But even now their ghosts haunt my essence, my vitality. It is hard for me to associate people. I am not used to people. I am not used to anything- I am a wild-child.


Now, the days are getting more narrow. The walls are closing in, the streets are busier and the sidewalks are a stage for my growing lack of self-esteem. Day by day I am dreading leaving the apartment to walk the long mile to work. There are strangers out there. They look at me, they breath out while I breath in and I find myself holding my breath a lot. Everything is filthy-doornobs, railings, money- I can't touch them. I am filthy enough.


I am losing sleep more and more every night. I fidget in the dark on my side of the matress on the floor. I can't stand the idea of my boyfriend touching me. What if he awakens?  How can  I feel that I love him and yet I cannot stand his hands upon me? How can I make him stay? How have I managed to make him stay this long? He has a heart of gold while my heart is a rotted fruit. Perhaps he wants to plant one of his seeds and change me forever.


Soon I am not sleeping at all. I am a dragged out puppet as I struggle with the weight of moving past gravity to get up in the morning knowing I must go out into the world. A new terror has begun to arrive under my skin as each day passes. It grows big and strong- my newborn miscreation. It scrubs my never clean skin in the shower, it tells me not to eat, it warns me to wear baggier clothes and to keep my head down as make my way in the streets. It whispers what every man is capable of doing to me each time one passes until its voice is a thousand calls- tangled and vexing.


I call in sick to work a lot. My boss and the other employees are annoyed. I know it's an inconvenience, but I really am sick. I can't explain my symptoms, I just can't function. My creature runs circles around me , disclosing more and more reasons why going outside and being around people is going to make me dirtier and certainly in peril. We work through the shower together and I allow it to wash my hair and clean my body for me. The hair that just a year ago waved in the breeze as I walked now lies in greasy clumps and hides my face. This feels familiar and it is comforting. It makes me trust my homunculus.


My boyfriend skirts around us. He has stopped touching me. I am not sure he is even around much anymore. I confuse him. I am confused. I have lost track of days, though I know I have managed to get to work some. I think those are the days that I have been able to beg my boyfriend into walking me there.


I receive a call from work. I am informed that if I do not show up for work the next day, I will be fired. My boyfriend can't walk with me, no matter how much I beg- he is previously engaged. As I lay my head on my pillow, I ebb into a special kind of hell. There is a silent hysteria parading around my body stirring winds into tornadoes and waters into tsunamis. I am an unnatural disaster. My skin slithers with a heat that hales from deep inside. The night is imperishable.


In the morning, I am dressed before the rooflines are spread with sun. I don't know what time it is, but I will leave now for work. I have the key, I am always there alone, it doesn't matter what time I get there, as long as it's on time. I'm just going to go.


I am on the sidewalk. Every step feels artless. My legs are insolent children- I can't make them behave.  I am absurdly clumsy as I look at my feet and walk. I make it to the light at the top of the street were I know I will  be in the city in a way that feels abrupt and rude. I will have to look up in order to cross the street. I am going to look up now. Look up.


I am there, on that corner, for a very long time. I am creeping backwards so slowly that it is imperceptible. The sun is zipping though the streets now that it has risen above the rooftops. People are arranging themselves around me. Finally, my back meets a wall. My arms are crossed over me, hands clamped under my armpits, my head is hanging. I hope that I am invisible. I hope that there is no law against whatever it is that I am doing. After a while I am not hoping anything, I am just there.


I am nodding off into sleep, my legs are buckling and locking, buckling and locking. The wall is giving way behind me. I am in a dead run now, thrashing and bolting like a prodded horse. I have broken. This can never happen again. I promise this to myself when I reach the apartment. I gain entrance and the phone is ringing. The petulant noise of it is relentless. I don't even think to pick it up. I know- I am fired.

...

Not too long after this episode, many things conspired against my mental well-being in an unmanageable way and I ended up packing it in.  I went "home" to Vermont and stayed with my brother.  A change of scenery and a lack of responsibility for any one but myself did me good and I was able to pull myself together enough to get some jobs and generally survive.  I was able to go back to an opaque dissociateve-ness  that allowed me to drift for quite some time.  This was just the beginning of a life-long struggle with Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fun and Games

I am nine years old.  Night is passing slowly, trudging along into the small hours of the morning. My room in this old country house is dark like a void- my ears ring in the silence.  I am used up and wide awake, aware of every shift and creek that 200 hundred years has brought to the walls and floorboards of this house.


I never sleep.  I have to stay alert. I can sleep in school- little nods here and there. I can sleep on the toilet in the girls room during lunch. Some nights he comes to my room, though most nights he doesn't. He sleeps next to my mother to assure her that all is as it should be. But every now and then, my specter haunts me and I need to be alert and ready just in case.


Tonight my stomach releases a thousand moths and my throat is a narrow reed from which I struggle to breath. I hear him coming. These night visits are not the same business as our daytime affairs. At night he is always angry. Bothered like a maniacal psychiatric patient, he paces my room in the dark with a pen-light, mumbling his fervored woes. There is not enough wood in the wood closet. He is certain I have done this to spite him. As if he wouldn't notice. I have shorted him by at least two armloads.


He rips the blankets off of me making a tidal wave of blankets and sheets and orders me out of bed. I am dressed in a shirt that is tucked into my pants and a sweater. He never seems to notice this on these nights. The nighty that I wear in his presence in the daytime before my mother comes home is not what he is concerned with right now. He is not thinking about our gentle daytime schooling. He is ruminating about a wall that I didn't clean perfectly, a rung of a chair that is still dusty- tonight it is the wood pile.


He says it can't wait until morning. I have purposely done this to upset him and I will not get away with such insolence. I am not going to be like other children. I am being brought up correctly- to be respectful and to do a job right the first time around. I tell him I am sorry for what I have done. I am sure I had filled the closet right up to the line he has drawn, but I don't dare tell him this. My apologies fall on insane ears and his grip on my arm as he rushes me out of my room is a tourniquet. At the top of the stairs he grabs me up and makes his way down quietly. He rushes me across the house, dodging the floorboards that creek and pop and deposits me at the top of the basement stairs. He tells me to finish the job.


The basement is the scariest place in this hell. It's dirt floors are treaded on by ghosts. It's stairwell houses snakes. There is a troth the size of a massive bathtub that I have looked in once before. I am sure there are dead bodies there. There are spirits here- Lucifer's minions. I would rather anything but to go in the basement- even the things my step father makes me do before my mother comes home. Even that.


He gives me a shove and I stumble down the first few stairs. I regain my balance and catch my breath after such a scare and reach for the light switch. He slaps his hand over it. There will be no light. My body freezes and melts at the same time as terror overtakes me. I cannot come to grips with the hysteria that is so loud inside of me and as my mouth opens to let out a scream, I merely whimper as the door closes and the lock sounds.


I stand in the blackest moment of my life. What is it that am I to be doing? I am supposed to get wood, that's right. If I get wood, he will let me out. I maneuver another few stairs in my bare feet. I hear the snake sliding over her nest, I sense ghosts drifting in their never-sleep. I feel bile rising quickly and I hurl myself the rest of the way down the stairs so I can vomit on the dirt floor.


The door opens. It is like sun after a furious storm. Everything is okay in an instant. It is amazing how light can bring such hope- such disillusion. He rushes down the stairs and wordlessly tugs my sweater over my head taking chunks of hair with it. He rips my button-down shirt down the middle, grabs the nape and pulls it off- my arms fly out like a marionette. He scream-breaths at me to take my pants off. He will not have me dirty my clothes with my own foul stench is what he tells me as he ascends the stairs and latches the door shut again.


I cry. I have not cried in years. If I scream, I will never stop. I know I will never leave this basement even if my body does. Crying is the only way to keep from loosing my mind.  I am naked and cold and my head screams where it has been scalped and I have lost sight of what I need to do to get out of this hell.  I am disoriented. I have gotten jostled and turned around by the hurried and brutal stripping.  I squat and hold my legs. I want to be tiny so the ghosts won't see me. I want to be as still as a pebble, so the snake will glide over me and keep going. I stay like this for so long that my body cramps and I know I will have to move or my body will move on it's own. Now would be as good a time as any to die.


I have had time to think. I remember that I need to get wood. I undo my body to stand. The wood pile is close to the trough. I take small shuffles forward, not sure what will be in front of me. My arms are straight out, my hands are tentacles. I feel cold and damp at my finger tips and snap my hands back. I make sense of the stone wall and turn about face. At the same time I feel a coolness on my face- a specter's breath. I quiver forward. I know now that the wood will be somewhere in front of me. I begin the slow voyage across the dirt ocean. I fear I will never get there and though I have pushed the ghosts and the snake from the forefront of my mind, they are there still, waiting to throw me off course, waiting to paralyze me with fear venom.


I hear something. I am sure something has moved. I stop in my tracks. It is quiet again. What was that? I can't allow myself to come undone.  I continue on. I can do this. I cannot allow myself to believe it is the dead rising from the trough. I have been shuffling long enough that surely I am nearing the wood pile. I bend forward and let my arms and hands swim through the air in anticipation of my goal. It is there and I allow myself a small glimmer of hope. I grasp a piece of wood and begin to lift when something scuttles over my hand. I am screaming now. I have abandoned all control and replaced it with possesed fear. I don't care if he kills me. I want him to kill me. Why didnt I think of this sooner? Let him strangle me. Let him take what little breath I have left.


Like a psychotic dream come true his hands are over my mouth and nose. He has been here in the dark with me all along. He has been the zombie, the ghost and the snake. Of course! When has he ever left me alone?


In this pitch black he is laughing as though he has performed the greatest practical joke in the world. No harm done, right? His chuckles are in my ear like maggots as he winds down and unhands me. What am I doing down here in this earliest of morning, he wants to know. Why would I be in the basement? Is it because I felt bad that I didn't finish filling the wood closet? It's okay, it can wait till daylight.  Run along and go to bed. My mother be leaving in the morning. There will be so many things to do tomorrow.  Lots of things to do.













Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Escape

I am 14 years old. I have just put the tiny little square of paper under my tongue. There is a tumble weed in my stomach- I am excited.  I don't know what acid is, but I have been drunk and stoned many times and if this takes me even farther away from my reality, there had better be a whole lot more in my future...

An Aside

This is me now. I thought I would write a little aside about what this blog means to me. Writing these stories is very healing and I am always looking for ways to sooth my soul, but I am not writing these entries in for catharsis. I truly feel that I closed the book on those painful years a good five years ago. Yes, it will always be with me. A good friend of mine who recently sustained a head injury and has her own wonderfully informative blog reminded me that people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often have long standing brain deficits. I take medications every day that I could not live without. I make adjustments in my life in order to keep a calm mind and body. I flinch when things come too near me too fast and so on and so forth. These things are for forever and sometimes that pisses me off, but I don't liken it to my life being destroyed anymore. Sometimes I get a little down on myself for not being a high-powered something -or -other. Then I remember that I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky that my daughter is such a wonderful and inspirational young woman and that my husband supports and loves me always. I have incredible friends and family.


My mother is still alive. My step-father and my dad have both passed. My mom knows about this blog and supports it (yes,with trepidation!)  She is not the same mother you read about in these stories. She has changed immensely. She is loving and caring and has done work to understand the effects of her actions on me and my brother. Since I believe that what happens to one person happens to all people, I appreciate her sincere effort to be open -minded  and just plain good of heart because that effects everyone.


This is about a road that so many people have  been down. It's about how people act. It is also about how people change. My journey has been long and arduous. Everyone in my path has been along for a hell of a ride. If I can take some people along with me now, as a healed woman, then this journey is truly magical. This is about ripping off the veil of shame that is so prevalent in our culture when it comes to child abuse. There are many things that our society is good at ignoring or belittling, but I believe that sexual abuse is the most quieted monster. It is the 21st century- a time that seemed mystical back in the 70's.  So many things have changed- look at the technologies, the advances in science, the way we are impacted by media and yet, NOTHING has changed in terms of really exposing the facts about sexual abuse and how insidious the psychological effects are. There is still unmitigated shame. People still can't put sentences together that describe sexual abuse experiences because it feels weird. We don't do "weird" well as a culture. No one has really gone past the discomfort of this subject in order to put it on the table for dissection. It is no wonder there is still so much toxicity within families- their legacies are still a mystery. It is no wonder the statistics on the fatalities and wreckage due to this unkempt mess is skyrocketing.


Recently a younger friend of mine wrote to me that after reading this blog. He/She is seeking healing from his/her past. If I died today after reading that, I would be as happy as I have ever been.




If I can do one small thing to rip a hole in the facade I am glad to expose my life. Please pass my blog to as many people as possible. Please dare to talk about sexual abuse. Much more than that, please dare to do something about it.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Elephants and Lions

Warning- this one is a bit graphic.




I am somewhere between two and three years old.  I am watching my ladybug curtains wave at me as the breeze visits my room. I am the mama of my stuffed animals. The babies are all sleeping under my blankie. I am wearing a prairie dress that my mother has made for me. I want to see myself in the mirror again. There are two parts to the dress- it has an apron like Alice in Wonderland's. I am Alice in Wonderland as I sway back and forth in front of the mirror and chant a toddler's song about the beauty of it all.


The man my mother got married to in the living room last week peeks into my room. He smiles. I smile. He is nice to me. He always has a bottle of Pepsi and lets me have a sip from it. He wants to come in and play. He sees my babies on the bed and asks if he can go to bed with them and will I tuck him in too? I am franticly searching for another blanket to cover him up with. He is a real live baby. This is the best kind of pretend. I am on the bed pulling hard on the blanket I have found in the closet. I am telling him to lie still and be a good baby while I tuck him in. I am breathing hard with the labor of caring for my giant baby. He does a good job of being still until he grabs my leg from under the blanket. I shriek and neighborhood dogs bark. He laughs and unfurls his long legs and grows into a man again as he gets off of the bed and closes my windows. He says he wants to play another game. We have to take our clothes off.  I don't mind. I take my clothes off all the time.


He has a different thing on him than I do. I stare at it. What is that? I think it is funny looking and I point and chuff at it. He takes it in his hand and swings it around and makes elephant noises. I am laughing out loud now. He wants to know what sound my animal makes. I touch it and make a loud ROOOOOAAAAR! We both fall into a fit of giggles. I am hyper now. I have a friend and we are very silly together.


He says I can be a lion and an elephant too. All I have to do is sit on his lap. He brings his animal up through my legs. It isn't as floppy as it was before. It's warm and hard and a little sticky. He says I should pet the elephant so that the lion knows it is friendly and won't try to eat it up. I give it a pat. Before I can take my hand away he covers it with his own and shows me how to pet the elephant just the way it likes it. He tells me not every little girl gets to play this game. I am special. If I tell anyone he won't play with me anymore. He won't be my friend. I like being special. My mother never holds me or plays with me. I do as he says. Maybe if I do we can play babies again.

Left Behind

I am 14 years old. It is the day after I have been to the therapist's office.  The Social Rehabilitative people have been here and I have been questioned. I do not remember the questions or my answers. I am more afraid than I have ever been because I know I am never supposed to tell. Those people are crafty and I think tay have made me say things that have caused some problems. My step-father has to move out of the house. This should feel good, I think.  But I can only feel lead pumping through my veins- so heavy. I am so tired.


The police follow on the heals of the SRS. More questions and more answers I am not really giving my mouth permission to say. Something is telling me that it's over, but it's too incredible to believe. This is my life. This is what I know. Who am I outside of this prison?


Weeks pass by and he is still here.  He is staying in a room downstairs. My mother has made a rule that I can be downstairs for part of the evening and he can come out for the rest. We can all live under the same roof and say we aren't.  He has not come near me. My days are very different without his constant influence. I am a puppy let off the leash. I have no idea what to do as I stand there in my collar. I can only stay near the leash and hope it will continue to be my guide- even if it's him who picks it back up for what else do I know? But that does not happen and though I am somewhat free from his iron fist right now, I miss it. I am sad for him. He is all alone in his room. No one loves him. My mother won;t speak to him. He is dejected and I know how that feels. He has been my constant companion, for good or for bad and I cannot imagine my life without him.


It doesn't matter if I ever get my head right about all of this because the police and the SRS people never return. They never make him move out. They leave me there with him for 3 more years as though they had never come. One day I will come to find out that certain strings were pulled and lies were told. Another one of thousands of pitiful, greasy-haired, worthless little girls has been left behind.

What Little I Know

I am ten years old.  My brother and I are at my father and step mother's home for the weekend. There is always a loosening of my muscles and a brief moment of ecstasy as I unload my bag onto the floor and look around to see how the place has shifted itself, left dishes in the sink, and stretched out and made itself comfortable. After my initial perusal I realize nothing has changed. I will still fight with my brother over who gets the couch and who gets the bean bag chair at bedtime. I will still sit in front of the TV all weekend and watch sports because my dad loves to do that and I want my dad to love me. I will still face the uncertainty of how badly my father will take it that nothing has changed over the last two weeks. I am still a huge disappointment to him.


I am pretty sure he thinks I am retarded. I would too. Every time he tries to talk with me about the affairs of the world, I stare at the floor- lost in some dark woozy place that makes me feel like I have taken cough medicine. I can't make my lips move. I can't make my thoughts form. I cant look him in the eye. We do this every time and I think that my father must be the most stubborn man alive- nothing ever changes. I know what will happen and I am screaming at myself to say something, but my mouth is a line on my face and nothing more.


He sighs. Not the kind of sigh that means he gives up. It's an expulsion of utter disappointment as he shakes his head and stands in front of me for a moment more. My face is a crimson ballon, swollen with held- back tears. How can he know I would do anything to be able to talk?  How can he know I want so much to understand his questions and to be able to converse about the world around me?  But, what do I know about anything?  How can I know what to say when the only time I am allowed into the world is when I go to school and when I visit my dad's home?  I don't know anything other than those things and the inside of the house where I live with my mother and step father.  I know every corner of the ceilings where the cobwebs are that I clean, I know every piece of furniture that I dust. I know every carpet that I vacuum. I know ever dish that I wash. I know every window that I clean, every toilet, sink, floor, railing, wall. I know the things I have learned from my step father and I know with every cell of my being how to keep my mouth shut.


Skin Art

I am 8 years old. I am constantly aware that I want my mother to love me. I have been sitting in my room and inspecting myself in a mirror. Am I ugly? Am I bad? Can she see my badness? I do this every day and I still can't put a finger on the reasons why I don't exist. that is me in the mirror, right? Maybe I am insane. Anyway, I smell something cooking and I wonder what we are having for dinner. I smooth my hair off of my face because I know my mother hates it when it's messy.


I am standing beside her. She moves away from me a few inches. I am a germ. In fact I am a petri dish to her. I can't remember the last time she touched me, held me, even spoke to me unless it was in curt response to a question. She is beyond cold- her emotions, her affectations, her responses are in a deep freeze. She is  becoming agitated that I am not leaving. Her icy blast as she puts down her paring knife and stares at the counter is so palpable that I shiver. She asks me what I want. What I want is for her to tell me that she sees me, recognizes me as her own and that maybe she loves me somewhere deep down. I tell her I am just wondering what's for dinner. Porkchops. Oh. Can I help? No. Can I watch? No. Do you love me? Silence.


In my room I sit in front of the mirror again. I am not looking at myself though. I am unlovable. I don't want to see the girl who is so bad, so irritating, so disgusting. I wrap the dish towel that I absently slipped from the kitchen around my hand and lash at the mirror. It shatters into hundreds of hideous images of me. I am multiplied and it is repulsive and shocking.  I had hoped to make myself invisible and instead I am left with  a collage of images that make me wretch with disgust. There is only one thing to do.


The glass is a scalpel as it carves into my skin. I am performing an operation. I am fixing the ugliness. This is something I think I could get good at and I like how it makes me feel- I am successful. I am excited, I am curious- I feel things I have never felt before- I am in control. I am an artist as I carve my graffiti- words like "WHORE" and "BITCH".  The most saturated color appears in bubbles and then rivulets and I am in love with my masterpiece. My inner thigh is a mixed media collage of burns and blood. Why have I never thought to do this before? I am a genius. I am a genius because now I don't have to feel anything anymore. But if I want to I can feel the joy of my secret and the power of my own device.  I have found my niche. Who cares about anything else.

...

Cutting/Self-Injury  This is a site that is geared towards teens. I think it is a better way to understand the what's and why's of Self-Injury.





Monday, January 23, 2012

Who's your Daddy?

I am 4 years old. I have just arrived home, but my brother has stayed at my daddy's house. I am received this morning by my step-father. There are niceties between the two of them as I am unbundled from the car on this cold winter morning. My step father thanks my daddy for dropping me early so he can spend some one-on-one time with me. It has been two years and I still seem a little reserved to him and he intends to have a fun day, just him and me. My daddy seems alright with that as he kisses my cheek and absently messes my hair up. I pull away and give him the look- only boys like that daddy.
He chuckles as he hops back in the car. My step father and I watch his car become a toy and then a bug and then a speck and then nothing.


I am confused and groggy. I have been asleep in the car and the transition from warm slumber to cold confusion is overwhelming. As I walk through the door to the house I am sniffling, trying to hold back tears. I want my brother. I want to go back to my father's house. I want to see my mother. No one is there but him. I am crying now- wailing in that way that small children do with total abandon. My face is met with a million pins as my step father slaps it. My diaphragm is immediately paralyzed. I am not breathing. I have never been hit before and the shock is like that of a quick jump into freezing water. My face crumples and pinches as if to signal my body to gather more breath and begin the torrent of tears again, but he is there, his breath upon my face and his eyes taking residence in my own. He tells me to shut up. In a level and humored tone, he tells me to shut. my. mouth. The lecture begins. This is the first day of my new school. He will teach me everything I need to know about my "family". He will tell me the truths I need to hear. I am a big enough girl to start learning and every day we will go over the lessons together.


I am no longer allowed to call my father my daddy. I will address him by his initials if I must. He is no real daddy anyway because he doesn't teach me all of the things that a real father should. My step father will be my daddy. He will be quitting his job so he can take care of me while my mother is at work. My brother can stay in his room. He isn't special like I am anyway. He goes to school and I deserve to learn too. I should thank him now for his thoughtfulness and willingness to help me learn how to be the best girl I can be. He says he has tried to teach me things before, but I was to little to remember, so we will start all over again. I will go to "that guy's" house when I am supposed to. I will never, ever share my lessons with anyone else. If I do, my brother will die.


I am seeing through a pinhole and I am hearing through cotton. None of this makes sense. The only things that I have learned are that I will not cry again and that I agree that I will be a good girl and learn my lessons and make sure that my brother gets to live.  We are both lost in his tirade- his strange rantings through clenched teeth. He is lofty with plans. I am weighted with fear.


He is kneeling in front of me again, smiling and moving his hands up and down my tiny arms. He is being so nice. This is better. He wants to show me the last lesson he tried to teach me- when I was too young to remember. He says I am old enough and smart enough to learn now.  He says we both have to wear different clothes though. I am lucky I get to wear my nighty to school and he will teach in his bathrobe.  I giggle about that and he flinches. His face changes for just a moment, as though he has been watching a movie in the dark and someone has flicked on a light. He has lost his concentration and I remember the pins in my face. I tighten up and ready my cheek for more, but he is glazed over again and he giggles too because I am right, he says, it is all kind of silly. My heart bursts with unbridled relief. I have pleased him. We are both happy. He will be right back and then we can start our lesson.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

In the Office

I am 14 years old, a high school freshman. I am a dark wanderer. I am so painfully shy that being in the halls during class change is too brutally painful. I am always late for class, but I must look so ratty and strange, hiding behind my hair, matted and greasy, that teachers don't hassle me. They have never even heard my voice. I don't have one.


That day I am called to the front office. There is a lull in the library as I make my way out from the back cubicles. This is one of the most painful journeys I have ever made, every step feels awkward, as though everyone has turned to look at me and is measuring my every move. My hair guards my panicked face. My hair is all I have. I am otherwise naked.


The Office? I am not aware that anyone even knows I exist. I am lost in thought- the usual quandaries- am I in trouble? Did some one see me smoking in the bathroom?


I see him and I freeze. A sheet of heatcuts through me, my breath catches. He looks insane through his upstanding citizen smile. Only I can see right through it. I search myself for what I could have done that would warrant a visit to the school. What could it be that can't wait for a cigarette ground into my inner thigh later? Or perhaps a naked stint in the basement in the pitch dark with no food or water for a day?


He turns back to the front desk woman and asks if there is an empty room for him to meet with his daughter. There happens to be the principles office. He beelines and I follow, as I am alway and forever his puppet. I enter the room and he closes the door with measure- slowly, as if it should never open again. He closes the blinds, shuffles a few things around on the desk and then asks me who the fuck I think I am? I gasp as though he has just sucker punched me to the gut. I am lost- I have no answer and for that I will pay. This is beyond any invisible past "offenses" and I have not got a leg up in the least. He tells me that I have always tried to get in between him and my mother. I am a whore who is constantly making her jealous and suspicious with my slutty advances and scanty clothing. She has strange ideas after reading my diary that he has done something that would not look good to others and she wants him to stay in another room and go to therapy. For this, he says, he will have to kill me. I open my mouth to speak, remembering the previous day when my mother held my journal while sitting on my bed. She had promised not to tell. She had agreed to put it back under the mattress and pretend she had never seen it. I was sure that she would not renege for her own selfish sake. I want to tell him that I lied in my journal, that I am a bad person and that I will make it right, but he is upon me- his cold hand a snake around my throat, the backs of my legs pressing against the desk, my feet slipping. My lies, he tells me, are killing his marriage and so my lies will have to die with me. He is bellowing now, all composure lost. He smells of tobacco and Pepsi- his earthly crutches. I have never heard him raise his voice. He has always been too good at his game to ever have to do anything but look at me- his silent threats enough to speak loud and clear.


A knock comes to the door. A voice asks if everything is okay?  Every one is always so kind in these  situations, as though politenesses will fix anything and turning a blind eye means nothing ever happened. He releases me, but keeps his finger pointed at my forehead- a cocked gun. He tells me not to come home tonight. Don't ever come home.  He backs away from me, his eyes locked on my face, after neatly arranging my hair around my neck. He seems to think I look like my usual self enough to make his exit with collected and charming thanks to the front desk people. I emerge from the office, hoping to skirt around desks and chairs undetected as usual, but I am cornered. They want to know if everything is "really"okay. A simple yes is all it takes in the early 1980s and all is dropped. No one wants any trouble you know. I am free to return to the library.







Saturday, January 21, 2012

Prow and Ice



I am seven years old. It must be a perfectly freezing day. I say perfect because I am saved by a stable thirty degrees. I stand under the eve of the two-hundred-year-old house I am being raised in. I am in my "night gown"- a shear peach-coloured shift that is a Christmas gift from my step father. It is lingerie, no two ways around it. He must have felt his evil prow to its fullest on Christmas morning when not a soul said a word upon my opening that gift and being made to try it on for all to see. Having learned how to make my body do commands without my mind being present and active, this was just another chore- something that I knew intellectually was bizarre, but automatically performed flawlessly. I also knew that not following commands was more dangerous than just getting things over with. I had cigarette burns to prove that. And now, as I stand under the eve, I am being schooled again. There are times when he has to prove his almighty power just for the hell of it, just to make sure that I know a surprise attack can, at any time, be launched. Be afraid- always and very.


The ice is an armory of a hundred spears. There is a menacing shifting of matter overhead. He has always told me never to play under the eves- ice-melts can kill. He always says that an icicle would be a perfect murder weapon.


I am quaking in my bare feet. I am a very small child. I don't eat much. I am ordered not to shiver. I take a deep breath. I am used to controlling my body against all odds. He tells me I will stand under that eve for twenty minutes. I will look him in the eye for the entire time. It will be a reminder that he is in control. He is creative. He can alter my brain with fear so unmitigated that I will gladly be his robot, his minion, his child wife. He is a crazy artist with a vision and I am his muse.


It was a particularly explosive climax that sullied my face an hour earlier that has made him like this. He was pleased at the time, but upon looking down at my face, he was no longer Dr. Jekyll.  Mr Hyde is now present.  He always plays games like this after. Experience hails the age old and cliche, "Don't tell a soul, or I will kill you".  That goes without saying as ice releases it's tears upon my nighty, my skin mottles and raises bumps in the cold. The sun is bittersweet in its attempt to warm me.  It's loving attempts may very well kill me.


A massive ice chunk gives way and crashes like a crystal chandelier six feet away from me.  It is impressive and as he shifts his eyes to take in the sparkling mass, I shuffle backwards trying to get closer to the house. I see how close I need to be in order to not be under the next beautiful disaster. I am afforded this insolence only because he doesn't see me. He is getting bored and realizing the time. My mother will be home from school shortly. He yells at me to get my ass in the house, what am I thinking standing out here in the cold? Go clean my face and the rest of the mess I have made at the foot of the bed that he shares with my mother. After that, I can put on snow pants and shovel the ice away so that my mother can park her car. There is no mention about how this is our little secret. I know that. I have known for four years now and I know I will harbor many more secrets in the years to come.

The End of the Beginning of the End of the Beginning

I am 13. I am floating in an haze of lilac hue- feels thick, I am smothered.  She is talking- a thereapist who's name I have already forgotten. Actually I don't think it ever registered. I have brain damage. My brain has always felt like it's taken an epic hit. Nothing really makes it into this misfiring, spurring dome and if it does it rots there in the grey matter, small and pointless. The book I am supposed to be silent reading in class always goes un-conceptualized. I read sentences over and over.  Math, geography, science...


Therapy woman is gentle and seems not to be a threat. But I am beyond such reasoning.  Everything, every person is a threat. I am here becasue I am supposed to spill about the diary entries that my mother read. I found her in my room, sitting on my bed, slumped over as though she had cried. Really, she was angry. Why had I made him do these things? What was she supposed to do now? If this got out, how could she stay with him? Were these things even true? Had he had actual intercourse with me or did he just touch me? I remember these quetions in resprospect. In actuality I was hearing them through my own screaming. I was not ready for this.


Years go by in moments and I am in the waiting room again. She is telling my mother that there is no way to get into my mind- there may never be a way. She describes catatonia, split-personality disorder and other possible melt-downs that will come of pushing me too hard too soon. I am lost, pieces of me scattered in some dimly lit nowhere- billions of shards, never to be whole again. This news does not bother me. Good! Leave me alone.


                                                                              ...




It is two decades later when I finally speak to this woman. Her name spilled to me in a dream as if from a never ending pitcher of sappish memories- yet another Post Traumatic Stress Disorder conglomerate of happenings, names, faces.  I must have, in my reptilian brain, filed her name away. Being hyper-vigilant is what had gotten me through those 11 years of unspeakable abuse.


My call to her is the beginning of my investigation. I am ready to take action. I am still just inside of the statute of limitations on my case. I am thinking of taking it to a lawyer. I can only think that she will know the details of that day, though it has been a long, long journey to the present. Somehow I am still here and I feel an anger roiling deep inside.


She remembers me. She remembers because it was a "very difficult and tenuous case".  My mother had called her after letting her fingers do the walking through the yellow pages.  When we had arrived at her office, my mother and step-father went with one person and I had ended up inside of her purple womb-room. The part I never knew was that she had been the one to call Social Rehabilitative Services.  She told me that until my case, it had never been a struggle to do so after abuse confessions. But for me, the idea that agents would come to our house and question me made her question the system- the safety of the immediacy of such actions.  The very reasons why she would not "treat" me were the things that kept her awake at night wondering how things had panned out after she had done her legal bidding.


Things didn't pan out so well.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Born



I am Cairn- a play on my given name, Karen.  My husband helped me to realize myself as I am now- all biological, mental and emotional crap aside, 42 years old, and stable. I am a crystal-loving, thoroughly therapeutized, old-souled, newborn. After a previous marriage, several nervous breakdowns, raising a child though it all, I am ready to tell my stories.* I am an open encyclopedia- anything you want to know about mental, physical and sexual abuse is in the pages of my consciousness. Better yet, anything you want to know about therapy, medications, survival, I'm your book.


I was born into apathy. As far as I can tell, having kids was "the thing to do"- my brother and I were thusly appropriated.   Love was not really a factor. A deep yearning desire to stare into her children's eyes and all that jazz was not on my mother's agenda. My brother, 2 years my senior, and I were conceived by two people who married, also because it was "what was done".  We were both full-time day-"care" recipients from the first allowable get-go. They divorced when I was two-years-old.  My mother was a high school math teacher. My father was a tenured microbiology professor- they had stuff to do.


A few years of marriage in, my father realized that his life with my mother was loveless and he had slightly loftier visions about his life- being alone would be a huge improvement. My mother met a man right away. Being her own person has never been her forte. He was perfect- a man with a plan and a psychology degree to enforce it. What she didn't realize was that he didn't marry her- he married me.


These are the memories of the brain damaged, Post Traumatic Stress Disordered Enterprise. I am about to boldly go where no wo-man has really gone before.




*My stories are "ugly" and raw. I do warn that I am not one to mince words. I have experienced other peoples' stories as catalysts to my own subconscious memories in both cathartic and catastrophic ways. This type of experience can be very intense and can, and for lack of better phrasing, freak people out. Please, if you are just coming to realize abuse in your life, check yourself as to whether reading my stories will help or hinder right now.

Get This


Fasten your sensibilities- this will not be easy stuff to read. These are stories from my childhood. Get this....