Silence(d) (287)

Sometimes I feel like I’ve come absolutely nowhere. When I’m feeling low and it’s all terrible, I think that I’m doing nothing. I’m weak and had might as well be dead. I’m feeling a lot like that today.

A big pull for me is that nothing has changed and nothing ever will, and that my life isn’t worth living.

And that’s hard. Really hard. Difficult to counteract. Because lots has changed, when I look at all of the individual details, and that’s just about to keep me going, except looking at the big picture, what’s changed? Absolutely nothing.

I think it’s easy to overlook how things felt before though. When I’m not thinking about it, I don’t remember the terrible agony of always wondering if I should tell my parents, and the subsequent agony of but what would they do if I told. And what I forget these days is how I ruminated over that every single day. And I mean every single day. I would berate myself for being weak, for doing nothing, I’d question if it would all be better, or all be worse. I would go over and over a million what ifs. All the while the stone of silence sitting heavy in my gut.

That changed, not really because I was ready or wanted it to, but I absolutely don’t regret it. Not one bit. I needed to stop being silenced in that way. And I’m not now, the people I feared being told most in the world have been told.

The part that makes me crumble and feel so alone? They dont really care, nothing has really changed. Now we’re keeping the secret together from my brother. Because he’s the important one, he’s the one they can’t bear to lose.

Body/bodies (268)

I hate my body 99% of the time. When I was a kid and everything started happening with my brother, I started eating. I was pre-pubescent, and I was eating to not think or feel, to numb. I still do it regularly even now. If my brain is noisy or my body noisy, I go to the fridge and I just stand there and eat. I’m not hungry…in fact sometimes I’m even very aware of how overly full I am, as I continue to put more food into my body to quiet it.

Of course, I became pretty chubby after that. I wasn’t even fat, but I was the chubbiest in my very small year and did have a fair few pounds that I could’ve done without, and so of course I became the “fat kid”, the one to be bullied because they were bigger than the others. And so my hatred for my body began. Because it was causing me to be singled out and picked on. Not only did the kids at school point my weight out, but my grandfather took frequent opportunities to be cruel to me about it. His disgust was very apparent; he was pretty forthcoming. It’s two years since he died on thursday…I’m not sure how I’m feeling about that. Did I ever actually like him?

I also hated my body, because it was my body that men were after. It was my body that my brother used, abused, raped. My body singled me out in my family because it was female, in a generation of all boys.

As I grew up I hated the female curves that were forming on my body. I always thought  (and most of the time still do think) that I have huge horrible thighs. I used to have bigger boobs (now they’re smaller, and I’m actually okay with their size), and I hated them, they just felt wrong on me somehow. Like they didn’t belong, were alien to who I was. What I felt like, and always wanted to cling onto, was a small child’s body. It’s never made sense to me, because it wasn’t the womanliness that caused me to be abused, that attracted him to me. I was abused in a child’s body. The only thing that seems to fit is that I was clinging onto the hope of being rescued and looked after. Nobody will recuse a grownup – they rescue themselves. Nobody is going to take me in and love me if I’m not a kid. I still struggle with this. A few years ago I lost a lot of weight in not a lot of time. My thoughts around food and eating and exercising were extremely disordered. Several times I tried to make myself sick after eating, even though I was actually just terrible at it. I’m still struggling with it. Still wanting to lose weight even though I don’t need to. Wanting to be small, wanting to not take up space, wanting people to figure out I’m not okay, wanting people to treat me like the little parts that I have inside and to take me in and parent me.

My angry part hates my body for taking up space. For existing. For being soft and squishy, for being hurt, and for being a body that can be hurt. She takes a razor blade and punishes the body, feeling pride and satisfaction when the gentle flow of blood rolls down our skin. She would rather our body was made out of cast iron: impenetrable.

And finally I think I should probably finish by quickly mentioning the memories that are now flashing in my mind. Of a body forced to do other peoples bidding. A body that I had no real control over. A body forced and hurt and violated. How am I meant to learn to love the body that got me here, when it did everything that it did? Forced or willing, my body did those things and now harbours shame and resentment and anger and lately a lot of rage.

Trapped (262)

The very first thing that came to my mind was being physically trapped by my brother. In a room with a locked door, in a room without a locked door even. It’s amazing how you don’t a concrete physical inability to escape, to be trapped. Verbal threats, the position of a hand around a throat, held tight around your wrist, a glare even will do it. A look that says you are not leaving here, don’t even try. Similarly in those situations, how your own body freezes and traps you there, forcing you to just endure it. How your brain may shout at you to leave, or your eyes might focus on the door, but you just cannot manage to get your body to move out of the fear and through that door.

*****

I don’t like siting still in one place where I am not comfortable and at home. I currently do a job where I am on my feet all day, walking around and doing things… I like that, the ability to move around. I don’t like feeling stuck in a room and unable to move. I have trained to go into a profession which will be an office job, but part of the reason I haven’t done it is that I don’t want to feel trapped in a room at a desk all day.

*****

This week I went back to t after several weeks of not going after a really bad session. I didn’t realise I was doing it but I never sat back in the chair for the entire time I was there. I hovered on the edge of it, and right over on the side that put more distance between my therapist and me, and less distance between me and the door. I think I was ready to get up and walk out – I didn’t want to be trapped there, forced to stay if she hurt me.

Regret(s) (254)

I’ve got plenty of regrets. I’m not going to go into all of them, because well, that would end up being an incredibly dull and longwinded post serving nobody, not even myself.

Today my mum brought up my brother with me. Apparently somebody drove into the back of his car (yet another in a series of unfortunate car dramas of his). She made a comment along the lines of “it’s like somebody up above has shoved a huge arrow pointing at him to attract car accidents”. I think I smiled, shrugged my shoulders in a kind of well, good way. She said I thought I’d tell you that because I thought you would like it…think he deserves it.

The way she does this, randomly brings it into conversation completely freaks me out. It makes me panic and dissociate. It doesn’t feel safe. I said that he drives like a complete idiot, so he does deserve it for that, yes. She didn’t take the hint, or rather, she just ignored it, as she has a tendency to do, and then said “I don’t get it, your relationship with him is worse than ever now, youre the one that said that you had a good relationship with him now”. My panic grows, my shame grows. I say that I don’t remember saying that. She tells me that I did, the day that I told her what he’d done (and yes I did say that). It’s her narcissistic way of saying that I’m now making it all difficult when I was perfectly fine with it back then. Its the insinuation (likely in my head, but I also don’t doubt that my mum is very much thinking it), that I chose how it is now. That I didn’t want them to tell him. That they said they would do whatever I decided. And they still would.

And I could…I could tell them to tell him that they know, to have it all out there, and risk him never coming back. And they would. So as far as they are concerned, they’re doing the perfectly right thing. They’re amazing parents. It makes me want to shrivel up in shame, even now just writing it. Because as far as they are concerned, the upset that I am harbouring (that they don’t even realise I am to the extent that I am), is entirely unfair and unjustified, and all because I’m selfish and too much, and making them out to be awful when they’re not. Except they aren’t taking any of the rest of it into account. They aren’t considering that my dad said literally nothing about it to me until I said that it was making me upset. His response was to completely and utterly pretend it didn’t happen. And then, when forced to talk about it with me, it was a family meeting that felt like a very cold business meeting. I was in tears being stared at by my parents who remained sat in their chairs. I was forced to come up with a plan of what we would do. I was forced to hear over and over about how if they told him, he would never come back. It takes no account for the pressure of all of it placed on me, it takes no account for the total control that was removed from my clutches and placed into theirs. I didn’t choose to tell. My mum asked and asked and asked until I said that yes it had happened. She already knew. I told her I didn’t want my dad to know, she said that he had a right to know and that she would be telling him. I was immediately forced to say what I wanted to do about it. At which point I think I said what I did about having a good relationship with him now that we were older. That things were different. I said it because it was true, and because I needed a grasp on staying as is was for a bit. Not having the rug pulled entirely out from under my feet. She was throwing everything at me in the most terrifying situation to me. She paid no real attention to the fact that I was very much not okay, she made it all about her, made a big deal about how she had to go to bed because she felt sick.

No regard has ever been given to how traumatic that day and the days following were for me. And I’m not surprised, they have no understanding of trauma. They laugh at the idea of somebody having PTSD who hasn’t been serving their country in war. It’s a preposterous concept. But what really hurts is that they have no desire to understand. To do some reading, to think about how to help, or what I might need. All the while thinking they’re being so amazing, and that I’m being difficult and extra. Making a big deal out of nothing. I hate the shame that I carry because of it. The shame that makes me cry and makes me want to hide, just for putting it out anonymously on the internet.

My biggest regret is everything that has come since telling. The not shouting, the not putting it all out there, the not bringing my brother into the huge mess that he doesn’t know exists but that he himself created. The staying close to them, the still seeing them, the not talking about it. The getting increasingly closer to my dad again, to the point where I don’t know if I would ever be okay with leaving them, even though I think that that might be the best thing I could ever do for myself. I don’t know how exactly I would do it different, and I know that no way would ever be perfect. But I just really regret the way that I did do it, even if it was the best I knew how at the time. It feels like the biggest mess that I won’t ever be able to clean up.

Mouth (236)

Trigger Warning  – this post contains graphic details of abuse

 

I’m 25 years old. I’m alone in my house, perfectly safe. The doors are locked, I know I am alone. I am an adult, I have a voice, and I have control. It’s sunny outside. There’s all sorts of noises outside from cars and people milling around shopping, walking barking dogs, talking to each other.

Only I’m not 25 years old and I’m not safe. I’m only 8, I’m on his bed, and he’s put my knees up high after getting me to take my trousers off. I’m really panicking, I don’t want this, I really really don’t want this. I start to squirm, I make a noise that isn’t a cry but not far off. He looks at me with hatred and anger, pushes my legs down. The message is clear: this is happening, the more you try for it not to happen the more angry and the worse I’ll be. He goes in again, mouth against me, and I need him off. I NEED HIM OFF. I put my feet on his shoulders and I push really hard. He’s way stronger than me, but I have caught him off guard. I push him away, and I think I stop it happening. Or I stopped that happening at least. I can’t remember what happened after that, but I have a feeling I was forced to do things to him. Anyway my victory was short lived, and this was a regular thing for him to do to me. Want to hear something disgusting? Sometimes I didn’t mind it so much. Want to hear something even more disgusting? When the guy I have sex with sometimes tries to do this to me I get triggered. The thoughts going through my head…you’re not as good as my brother.

I tell myself I’m safe, that I’m feeling these things in my body but they arent really happening. I try to keep pressure against myself down there so that I know that it’s just me there, nobody else, and nobody can get access. And I’m 25. A triggered 25 year old that read a book that was too much, and now has the word “mouth” going around and around in her head, and in her body.

I’m not an adult, I’m 9 years old and he’s locked us in the bathroom, hes shoving his penis down my throat and forcing the action, and not letting me pull away, however hard I try. I gag, I feel like I can’t breathe. I’m suffocating and I can’t pull away. I blame myself because I suck my thumb and doing that made him think of it.

 

I’m an adult and I’m safe, and yet I’m not. I’ve spent days feeling sick, being tortured by all of this bullshit, and a whole lot more. I’m not just thinking of it, I’m in a ball, unable to move, its happening, and I keep my jaw locked and my legs tight shut. I fucking hate it.

one hundred & eighty five: terminate

what a forceful word.

i was all over the place with the word, thought of everything from terminating a pregnancy to terminating a contract to arnold schwarzenegger movies.

i guess what i hope i’m doing is terminating the cycle of my parents, and my ancestors…of abuse. of violence. of silence, and suffering in isolation.

i know it is still in me, all the rot…all of the horrors of my grandparents, and their parents. i am certain that there was incest in my parents’ families of origin; there was certainly alcoholism and domestic violence and mental illness aplenty, some kept subterranean, some more flamboyant. there is a quickness to my anger that scares me, that flashes and flares with a suddenness that is overwhelming and deeply triggering. the pull of addiction is strong in my blood, and i’ve been flying my cuckoo flag high for years.

i guess we’ll find out in another decade or so, when our kid is in full-fledged therapy, as to how successful i’ve been in terminating the unsavoury parts of my lineage. it’s like a really fun, suspenseful game of roulette…will it be the things i’ve anticipated that have fucked her up, or something that flew entirely under the radar?

Affirmation (159)

People who have grown up in abusive families tend to have missed out on these growing up, I think. Maybe they totally clung to them whenever they received positive affirmations from people, or maybe they dismissed them, refused to let them in, shrugged them off as not truthful, they are only saying that because they don’t really understand, they don’t understand all the reasons you’re actually just terrible. Some people do both; I did. Both clung to any slight positive affirmation thrown my way, and refused to truly let it in. Voices inside my head citing off every single reason that the person was wrong to say what they did, backed up with the data of every single time everybody else said something bad to you, or wasn’t there.

Now, particularly when I’m young, I need (too) many of these from people that I have let in. (Which is not very many people – only pocketcanadian and my therapist). Sometimes my shame surrounding this feels crippling…because to me asking for affirmations – that I’m not alone, that my hurt is justified, that I’m not bad, that I’m loved, or even just that I matter, my hurt matters; all of it feels needy. It feels weak.

In both mine and pc’s circumstances, our parents are acting like nothing is really wrong. It is crazy-making. Like truly *crazy* making. I’m sure there are unfortunately so many out there that know exactly what I mean, and I can’t begin to sufficiently express how insane it makes you feel when your family are carrying on as though everything is just dandy. In my case having no doubt as to the abuse actually having taken place (after all, I didn’t tell them, they merely asked me to confirm it), but nonetheless having a family dinner complete with my abuser, as though we are one happy family. Most of the time I know that they are the crazy ones, but sometimes i start to truly question my sanity…have I lost it? Did I tell them? Am I imagining all of it taking place? Or are they right, is this just not a big deal but I’m making it into one?
This is maybe the most hurtful part of it all.

And so, my point to that last paragraph, was that having somebody by your side, rooting you on, confirming that yes, that really did happen, and yes they really are doing what they’re doing, and no my love, you are not the crazy one, they are the crazy ones, the crazy is theirs, not yours…Having those affirmations, is invaluable, and without it I don’t think I would be here. It feels like when you take the stabilizers off your bike for the first time and you have somebody running alongside you as you cycle…you’re still so scared, still unsure, you still don’t feel totally safe, but you know there’s someone right with you, keeping you going, there ready for when you fall, reassuring you.

one hundred & twenty two: tired

oh god. this word.

i don’t know how many times i’ve sobbed about being tired in a therapy session. and i’ve meant it in terms of the hundreds of nights of stolen sleep, the physical exhaustion of my ridiculous on-call work life, but mostly, in the aching fatigue that comes from dealing with the fallout of incest and trauma. with battling parents and a brother who deny it happened in the first place, with a mother who thinks i’ve been hypnotized and a father who thinks my lesbian man-hating therapist planted ideas in my head (never mind that she is quite heterosexual and incredibly man-loving, never mind that i’m not a brainless blob that believes everything thrown her way). when i sob that i am tired, it is of the isolation, the shock, that this is in fact my life. i am tired of knowing this stuff, of carrying it. i don’t know when it will stop hurting. i don’t know how it ever could.

i spent much of my life convinced that there was something wrong with me. that all the labels and medications were to try and name and then fix the inherent brokennness that was me. and i was a fierce advocate for mental health issues, i disclosed often and in varying detail my journeys of depression, anxiety and panic disorder, because i hoped that i could help others (and myself?) by staring it in the face. i took full ownership of the wrongness of my neurotransmitters and hormones, medicated them, attempted to forgive my brain for its idiosyncrasies, and just tried to live the best life a damaged, sick, crazy person could live.

until remembering sexual abuse in my childhood, at the hands of two members of my family, turned it all upside down.

and over these past three years, i wished, so many times, i could just go back, that i could just unknow it all and go back. i have been gutted, time and again, by how difficult it is to share the responsibility for how i am; have been razed to the ground by the realization that the inherent wrongness i have always felt was a fucking lie, planted in me by the people meant to love me most. it is exhausting to flinch at the word family. it is exhausting to be reminded, with every interaction with my parents, that i am unseen, unheard, unknown. it is excruciating to nearly drown in the waves of abandonment, terror, and shame, and realize that this is how it felt, this is how little pocketcanadian felt all the time back then.

she wasn’t crazy. she wasn’t sick. she was damaged, oh yes. she was so so hurt, she was made to know things that she never should have, she was unsafe in her home, she was the receptacle for so much shame.

and unlearning all the things that were inserted into me, when i was too little to know different? is a full-time, full-body job. there is no amount of sleep that can remedy this sort of tired. there is just time, i am told. the passage of minutes, and days, and years, becoming accustomed to this new reality, to this identity, to these new labels. hoping that the sting eases. hoping that i can build a new life: of safety, of love, of compassion and gentleness, and that it can be enough.

Gratitude (113)

This ones a bit sticky for me. In our house gratitude was horribly interlinked with not complaining, keeping your mouth firmly shut.

“Shut up and be grateful for what you’ve got”.

And yes, we should all be grateful for the things in life that we have, nothing is a given, not a home, or a job, or safe people or loved ones. Some people currently have none of those things. And yet, as I’ve grown up, I don’t for one minute agree with this notion that talking about things we wish were different, “complaining”, expressing negative sentiments towards things, makes us ungrateful people, or ungrateful for those things that we do have.

I was extremely grateful to go to a private school (although to begin with I begged to go to the local school with all my friends, and would have done perfectly well there), and yet in our house we were continually reminded of how much sending each of us to a private school had cost them, (quite literally, we were given the figures), and everything they had missed out on in order to do so. And I am grateful, truly, for my school was in fact a bit of a safe haven for me for a few years, and yet it does not make right the pressure placed to do well and “make all the money worth it”. It also doesn’t make right the rest of the shitshow of a childhood we had at times. In order to be grateful for the sacrifices they made (and they did do it with the best of intentions), I do not need to be grateful for the rest of my childhood, or pass it off as being ‘made up for by’ that one thing, or ‘well, think about everything we gave up for to send you to that school, how much it cost’.

One right (and actually, a questionably necessary right) does not make okay other wrongs. Being grateful for one thing doesn’t automatically mean you should forget other wrongs.

I am not grateful for the sexual, physical and emotional abuse I endured growing up. Nor the neglect. I will not ignore or forgive those things simply because I “ought to be grateful” for the house we had, the food and clothes, the gifts my father bought us in the airport each week, the schools we went to, the opportunities we had, the birthday and christmas presents. I won’t allow the violation of my body to be made right by the fact that my dad bought me back a big bar of milka chocolate from Schippol Airport most weeks, and “dads home and he’s bought you a present so you have to be on your best behaviour”.

I’m absolutely positive that in my parents opinion, the rapes at the hand of a member of my own family are made okay by the fact that I never went without food or clothes, things I needed, and very often things I didn’t need. I am to keep quiet, keep the secret, no make a fuss, be grateful for all those things that I did get, not be selfish and focus on the negative, make out that it was all awful, and make life difficult for them.

And I still cannot comprehend this response of theirs. I don’t believe I am being ungrateful at all, I am grateful for the things I got.

Their disregard for all of my hurt however, has me floored.

Crying (111)

Well I’ve been doing a fair bit of this today…

This one is kind of mixed in with all the ‘being weak’ stuff that I wrote about the other day (or started to write about)  And when I say mixed in, I mean glued together, being smooshed into each other by ten tonnes of iron either side, inside a locked safe with the key thrown away in a room 1,000ft under ground… ie really fucking together, and never not going to be. Crying is weak. That is the message that was planted into me very early on, and fed all the time. So really the first huge thing I think of when I think of me crying, is massive amounts of shame. And that’s all thanks to my family

I mean, to begin with I grew up with two older brothers, and that just in itself probably tends to result in a girl being a little tougher and less likely to cry (maybe? Maybe not. Depends on the family and the kids, but with my kind of brothers definitely so). Then you can include my hard mother, who doesn’t cry, never has been a crier. She was tough, not soft, and that was how I was to be. And then, y’know, you can add into the mix my entire childhood experiences. Violent father, abusive family, sexually abusive family, for that matter. And I was the mediator, the one required to keep her cool and keep the peace and make sure everything was okay. I was needed to be emotionless, and to a great extent I was. Different parts generally held different emotions, and I appeared to the outside world devoid of all ‘bad’ ones… Or “fine”. (that word had better not come up any time soon or I really will cry).

So, what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t cry much. I absolutely could get upset, but as I got older I started to switch my emotions off. But to do that, I absolutely did cry… late at night, all on my own. About things that were happening to me, about imagining family members dying, about characters in books and films. I had books and films that I would turn to when I felt like I needed to cry. And I would sob into my stuffed elephant, like really really cry… About fictional characters, and yet also about the feelings of things that were actually happening to me, in my very real life.

And that was almost every single night for a while. I took myself to bed and I read if I needed to, and I cried myself to sleep.

Fast forward on a few years and I felt like I must’ve cried myself out, used up all my tears, because I could no longer cry…my tactical books and films no longer worked, I was immune to them. I was noticeably hardened, to the point where people commented on it. All of it had been turned off  because it was all far too much.

Im still so ashamed of crying, of being weak, of allowing there to be a place for my hurt and of people knowing that I am hurting. But I’m so much better with it. And I do think a certain Canadian friend has helped so much with that, by being kind and gentle and reassuring and sitting with me when it happens. I’m relearning to cry, and I really hate it sometimes, but it feels much better and safer with her by my side. She uses the phrase that “it feels like you will down in the grief” or “die from the pain of it”, and it really really does sometimes. Just today it all felt like too much to bear, it felt like I would never stop crying, and yet always, always, I have.

All of this is not to say that I cry a lot, because I don’t, I’m still getting there. But it’s more. Its also only ever on my own or with safe people, which so far only includes pocketcanadian, (though my therapist is close to being added to that list I think, if she stops disappointing me enough that I actually go back to her). But it’s so much better to give it space, to feel those feelings, even when you feel like you won’t survive them.

Lastly, this makes me think of pocketcanadian and how heavy my heart feels that she let’s me be there when she’s crying, that I’m safe enough. And it makes me think about how being on the phone to her and hearing her cry, is sometimes enough to make me cry too.