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.

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 & seventy six: healing

the first thing i thought (and then wrote) was: never-ending.

shoulda left it there, but no, i decided to take a little lookie-loo on google. idiot idea.

healing…

(via merriam-webster): to make free from injury or disease. to make sound or whole

(via wikipedia) (i know, i know, not the best authority on anything, but…): the process of the restoration of health from an unbalanced, diseased, damaged or unvitalized organism

there were others, but those kicked me in the gut sufficiently.

to make sound or whole. to restore health from a damaged organism. fuck.

to re-establish a life, to revitalize. sure, okay.

i don’t know why it’s hurting so much to read all of that, i don’t have the words to describe how impossible it all feels. and to summarize all that has been lost, has been ‘unvitalized’ (is that a word, even?), to look out upon the landscape of what needs restoration and think, holy fuck, do i even have enough life left to do it?

where will this pain live, when i’m 50 or 68 or 91 years old? where will it have settled? will i be whole?

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.

Resolutions

I’ve been searching, for years, for a resolution to the things that happened to me.

For years I placed it out of my mind. Don’t think about it, don’t feel anything, don’t acknowledge any of it. That was my resolution, and it was a necessary one at the time.

Then I moved out of my parents’ house and suddenly that was no longer possible. I couldn’t ignore it, even when I wanted to. So my resolution became to start talking (or try to) and to get over it without ever having to say a word to my family or friends.

Except that still wasn’t working too well, and one night I did tell a friend. Then we both ignored it… Didn’t know what to say so said nothing at all. Nothing had really changed, I was still set firmly that I would never tell anyone, never hurt my family and break us up. That that was no resolution at all.

Fast forward a couple of years and outwardly everything remains the same. Still set in my mind… I’ll never tell, never ruin everything. But inwardly I am a mess. I’m spending lots of time on a forum, I can’t shake thoughts of this stuff for more than 2 hours in a row. I feel unfixably broken. I’ve become extremely close to a woman that has done something I am to afraid to. She is brave and strong and amazing, even when she feels the opposite of all of those things. And I feel ashamed that I’m too weak to do what she’s done. That I can’t stand up and tell them.

Until one day I do. Without ever intending to. (and she’s the first person I tell). I’m a mess, I’m dissociative, I’m trying to keep everything together whilst it’s falling apart. And yet somewhere inside of me I had this voice saying that it was good, so good. That I’d told, that the burden and weight was lifted, that it would all be okay. That finally, I had my resolution.

Naive, right? Oh yes. No resolution, no nothing. Heartbreak and pain that the two people that raised me want nothing to do with this information. That I come last, yet again. That I am placed yet again in the position of keeping this secret, only this time with nobody to hold out hope for. Nobody to think that they would care and love me and put me first. Nobody to be heartbroken by the things that were done to me.

Now I don’t know what the resolution is. To stay here? To ignore it all and keep this secret to keep my family? To leave and lose all of them?

I still don’t have a resolution, and I realise that I won’t ever have a resolution that feels good. And this post is whiny and poor-me and annoying, I know. But actually, tonight it breaks my heart. It kills me that our mums did nothing whilst we were sexually abused by members of our own family. It kills me that after telling, years later, they still do nothing. The lack of safety, the lack of loving people, the aloneness. Jesus it hurts tonight. It really fucking hurts.

Can you imagine? A wee little pocketcanadian at 4 years old, in her bedroom, alone, after being shamed, alone and scared and trying to make sense of the disgusting things men did to her tiny little body.

I always felt disgusting. I blamed myself and I felt like I had to be the adult keeping our family together. I didn’t let anyone in, I tried not to let myself have feelings, except late at night, when i would cry myself to sleep. I wasn’t safe. I never felt safe.

There probably isn’t a resolution. I suspect its dumb to expect one. But I can’t seem to stop searching for one

***

Tonight pc and I have been messaging. I told her how sad I was, how I couldn’t bear any more hurt. And she said yeah, that’s what’s been hurting her so much, that she feels like she’ll never get over that hurt. I told her we will, we both will. Not get over it, but become more at peace with it. (Meaning, it will always be there, but we’ll be better able to cope with it, we’ll come to accept it easier, somehow. I don’t know, I can’t seem to adequately explain what I mean). Her response: no we won’t. But it will get less. It will inform our lives, it will make us so so strong and so gentle and so resolved to not repeat it ever again.

I feel like I want to save those words. I want to save the love and protectiveness and gentleness we are both feeling for little us tonight. And I want to save that knowledge, that the hurt will change. It will always be there, but it won’t be as strong as it is tonight, it will shift, and it will sit differently within our bodies.

And I want to cement that resolution. I will never do what our mother’s did. I will never sit back and allow those things to happen to a child. And should somebody let me in to their hurt and tell me of terrible things that have happened to them, I endeavour to always take it seriously, to be gentle and loving and present.

fifty-two: longing

ugh.

i don’t think i can do this one justice today, it’s been a completely shitty day.

what i long for most is for this not to have happened. the possibility that somehow, i wasn’t a little girl to whom these things occurred. that i wasn’t really a receptacle for the lust and sickness of two grown men, that i was safe, that i was protected, that i counted.

secondly, i long for a lap, into which i can keen and sob and wail because it did fucking happen, all of it. so many disgusting things, to my small body, so many disgusting words, into my young ears.

and lastly, i long for the day when i don’t long for that lap, when my motherlessness doesn’t feel like a stone in my gut, when i stop needing so desperately and often. when i can hold her and me both, and know that we’ll make it through.

fifty-one: kind(ness)

this is a word that is both meaningful and hard for me.

meaningful, because i hold kindness in high esteem…value it greatly. aspire to it, try to embody it, cultivate it, and live it in my daily life. i fail often, of course. but i won’t ever stop trying, because i know its profound impact, and i believe in it, am a devout follower.

and yet, hard, because there was a bit of a shortage of kindness in my household, growing up. my parents were purposely unkind fairly often, but even when they were not, i would not describe them as especially kind. things at home felt very particular, all sharp edges and expectations and discipline. measured responses. a lot of impatience. it is difficult for me to recall spontaneous cuddles or affection or praise. when i think of kindness in my childhood, it is not their faces i see (but thankfully, i can think of other instances of kindness. kind eyes and kind faces and kind hands and kind acts, and i am grateful to have those.)

*

many times, even a stranger unexpectedly calling me ‘dear’ or ‘sweetheart’ invites a massive lump into my throat, floods my eyes, even before i can control it. it is so so embarrassing, how a correctly-timed kind word, or a loving glance, or someone speaking gently can entirely do me in. i used to say to my therapist that my idea of torture would be to have someone say a bunch of loving, positive, things about me to my face. like in a row, one after another. it makes me squirm even now, ugh, where would i look, what would i do with it all, when would it stop ugh ugh ugh. but tie me to a chair and criticize me, withhold praise, shrug at me or otherwise act indifferently for hours, and i’d snuggle in like i was home.

*

speaking of therapy…yesterday, i had an appointment and we were about to do some work that i had been avoiding. my therapist was asking me to check in with my little one inside about something, and i didn’t fucking want to, i just didn’t want to hear about it. i crossed my arms, pulled faces, fidgeted in my seat. she waited, and watched, patiently, and then, right in the middle of my huffing and puffing and eye-rolling,  surprised me with a snort and a belly laugh. you’re so, so cute, she said. i could just see her in you right then, that sweet wee girl. i could’ve laid in her lap and cried just from that, for hours and hours and hours. my face is wet just remembering it. why is she like that with me?

and why weren’t they?

*

the most pride i feel as a mother is when people say our daughter is kind; we’ve heard it from her teachers, our friends, her friends’ parents, her grandparents. she is kind, so kind to nearly everyone.

except herself.

and when i am reminded of that, when i see that and hear how mean she is to her little self, how intolerant, when she makes a simple innocent mistake and is sobbing and telling me that she is the worst kid, she is a rotten person, she doesn’t deserve to be here, it is the most desolate i ever feel as a mother. it is hard not to just quit, right then and there. did i do that to her? is it just in my blood, something i can’t help being and giving to her? is it a cultural affliction, or just a genetic one?

*

years ago, i remember hearing about amma, a woman colloquially called ‘the hugging saint’ from a province at the southern tip of india. i don’t remember where exactly i heard of her, or read of her, but i remember seeing a picture of her and being struck by her kind face. and also recall a video of her, quietly but meaningfully hugging people, hordes of them, one by one, for hours on end. searching out their eyes, and holding them close to her, smiling gently as people dissolved into tears in her arms. when asked why she did it, she responded simply that we all deserve love, no matter who we are. at last count, she has apparently comforted over 34 million people…that amazes me. how much love she gives, but also how much she gets back. she must be brimming, all of the time.

this is not really finished but it’s all i’ve got for tonight…sorry it’s just trailed off in the middle, i’m overcome by sadness and tiredness and the kindest thing feels like burying myself in my flannel sheets and succumbing to sleep.