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.

forty-nine: hidden/hiding

i struggled with this one. because it felt ugly to put the two things i thought about in proximity to each other. in any case, i couldn’t think of anything better so i published it anyway.

  • the innocence of how our daughter used to run to a tree at the park, cover her eyes and lean into the bark of the tree, in full view, entirely convinced she was hidden; also, how she used to call i’m over heeeeeere! when we ‘looked’ for her
  • how it feels like i have this massive massive secret these days; that i am hiding this huge thing about me and my identity. that i have been dirty, violated, used. that i am hiding part of my true self, the part who now, fully believes the little one who lived it first. that i exist in this multiplicitous (is that a word?) matrix, where i am a capable professional, a mother, a wife, a friend, and at my core, a survivor of horrific gross things that were done to me when i was half the age of my daughter. in my darker moments i hate myself for keeping this secret. but i can’t risk telling it, you see. because no matter how much shame i feel for keeping her to myself, for guarding her, for keeping her tucked in, i am not bulletproof enough yet. all the #metoo and the media stories and the pain in the faces of fellow survivors still bring me to my knees, still make me tremble in awe and with grief. i am stronger than i ever thought possible but i am not strong enough, yet, to resist tearing them apart with my teeth if they were to hurt her again. we’re not ready. i’m not ready.

Hidden/hiding

When I was a kid we had this ‘tree house’ that was in one of the fields where we lived. It wasn’t much of a tree house… It was on an oak tree whose roots were in a stream and that had fallen over but still grew. There were a few planks that had been nailed in creating a frame and some planks to create something resembling a floor, but that was pretty much it. Where the roots where where it had fallen over, they met with the stream and went up vertically creating a sort of vertical wall (only maybe 3 or 4 feet high) a few feet away from the bank of the steam which was parallel to it. Over the top we’d put some more wood, and created a bit of a den. A small space enclosed by tree roots and a muddy bank. Full of leaves and bugs and with a wooden roof. The trickling sound of the steam right next by.

That steam led into a large pond, and on the side further away, slightly difficult to get to, was a rope swing hanging from a tree right next to the pond. A thick branch with rope wrapped around the middle of it and tied up in the top of the tree.

I’d hide out there. Take food and drink and books and stuff to draw and id hide out. Id play and make up stories. Id swing and swing for hours, sometimes being lucky enough to watch 8 beautiful little ducklings swim by.

Nobody normally cared to notice I was missing. Id used to wait, hoping and expecting someone to come down and see where i was…never really had any luck with that.

*****

I’d hide away in my brain. Space out, dissociate. Id hide away from the experiences happening to my body.

****

I once ran away and hid down in our orchard. I never ran away, but one of my brothers did it frequently at the time and got a lot of attention. He’d get picked up by the police, he’d be worried about, and asked what was going on. They never even knew I was gone. So, I never did that again, I was so ashamed.

*****

Id create tents in my bedroom all the time for a bit. Blankets over the bedposts, my own little den. Somewhere id do homework and spend my evening and try to feel safe. Somewhere I could hide from my life.