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.

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.

two hundred & eleven: temporary

a bunch of trite, annoying quotes filled my head when i read this word. although some of them are true, they all just grated on my nerves. not hard to do currently, to be fair, but still. pain is temporary. variations on don’t make permanent solutions based on temporary feelings.

this has felt like the longest, unrelenting temporary stint of pain i’ve had in a good long time. it can fuck off any time now.

Anger (161)

Safe to say, I don’t do anger very well. At all well in fact.

Anger was always considered a strong emotion in our house; one of the few emotions that were actually allowed. The major problem was that anger far too frequently involved violence. Doors slammed, words shouted, objects smashed, things thrown. Anger was terrifying when I was little, and yet there was so much of it, and worse of all, from a young age I took on the role of mediator. I was the only one who could get through to my dad when he was raging (and he was the very worst), and it somehow just became my duty to try to step in the middle and keep the peace. From all of that I ended up keeping all of my anger inside. I separated off from all of it, and most of the time I directed it inwards, because if I directed it at anybody else there would be nobody to step into the role of mediator.

These days I get angry, I have a part that just gets referred to as the angry one, and she rages and is awful. I can’t stand her. I am also not very good with anger. It doesn’t matter how okay I was beforehand, pretty much as soon as anger comes up I’m a triggered mess, scared of what will come next.

So yeah, I suck when it comes to anger, its not my favourite.

Weak (98)

I feel like I need forever to actually be able to write this post and do it justice for all the power this word holds over me.

Being ‘weak’ is the most insufferable, sickening, shrinking, painful thing to me. The idea of it, the suggestion that I might be it, the thought that people may misjudge me and consider me weak where I am not.

The origins of the pain of this word, of course, are from my family. They lie in the fact that being upset, needing, being sensitive and emotional were considered to be ‘weak’, and that being weak led to abuse and trauma and pain.

 

  • My mother was not the cuddly, gentle, reassuring, patient mother that small children need. She was generally inpatient, had no time for tears or being upset, or hurt. She didn’t react to those things with gentleness, but instead with annoyance and sometimes anger, and frankly, a lack of mothering. I hadn’t actually made the connection between this word and my mother to this extent until I began writing, but it is extremely clear. I don’t think she meant any harm by being that way; it was not intentional, likely passed down from her own upbringing. However the effects of it were far-reaching and really quite devastating. How was I ever going to feel like I could turn to somebody and admit how I was being hurt, when doing exactly that had been ingrained into me as being weak? How could I cry and need and ask for attention when that only ever resulted in impatience and annoyance, and a “come on, you’re fine, stop making a fuss”.

 

  • And all of that just caused so much shame. I closed in on myself to keep myself safe. Don’t cry, don’t be little, don’t be needy, don’t hurt, don’t be hurt. The white hot shame of doing those things only to be ten-folded when met with cold irritation. I hate that bastard shame, I really really do.

 

  • Today this word sits differently amongst different parts of me. The older parts don’t like it, but they are generally disdainful, quietly hating or judging the younger parts when they do something ‘weak’. If the rage-y one rages then this often is a source of huge self-hatred that she uses as ammunition. They take the place of my mum, inputting all of her shame. The youngest part pays no mind to not being ‘weak’; shes needy and emotional, and full on, and doesn’t care except to not want to be told off for it. The one that this is the be all and end all for is one of the young ones. The word sits in her belly and weighs it down with shame. It is always in the background, always there. It’s why she is spikey and walled up and tries to scare people away. It why she can’t ever let anybody totally in, despite being desperate to be loved and cared for like the little one she is. Her world centers around this 4-lettered stupid little word. It causes more pain, keeps more relationships from deepening, and keeps us more alone than any other word in the dictionary. And worst of all is the self-hatred it invokes.

 

I think this is going to be a part 1 of 2 (or more). There’s more to say…its huge impact even today, how I thought I deserved it all for being weak. How I thought if I physically made myself strong I would hate myself less for being weak…. But this will do, for now. It’s a start.

seventy-five: enable

i have a fair number of people with a variety of addictions (food, alcohol, gambling, drugs) on both sides of my extended family (and my wife does, too), so i thought immediately about enabling in that sense; that is, an unhealthy interdependence, whereby the person with the addiction is protected by another/others from the consequences of their behaviour.

i of course also thought about abuse (when don’t i?) and about how angry/sad/crazy it makes me feel when i think about how long i was complicit with the story my parents had woven about me. how long it went unchallenged, how deeply i believed it, how hard it was to consider that the wrongness i had always believed was mine, maybe wasn’t. how difficult it is to shake, even now. that its familiarity, its tune, has been bred into my very cells, it seems.

i enabled that story. meaning, i actively participated in it, for years. in fact, that story is still being told, and i wish i could say it doesn’t hurt me, but it does, it really fucking does. i’m a grown-ass woman, but they can still make me feel miniscule.

that i’m not seen, that i’m not known by them, feels like a wound that might never fully close over. i think we’re doing so good but then a word…a text…a fucking greeting card aisle…a stupid holiday…and it’s weeping again, the pain fresh and new and sharp.

Hate

A couple of nights ago, I wanted to destroy everyone and everything near me. I was so so full of hate, I just wanted it out of my body. I was imagining hurting my poor little kitten that I love (I didn’t); I wanted to really really hurt him, release all of my anger and hate, and kill him, this little, adorable, sweet and oh so naughty kitten. My thoughts were violent and uncontrollable and just so so not okay. There was no interacting with other parts of myself, there was only this unbearable hatred eating me up. I wanted to rage, I wanted to scream and hit things, and hurt people. I really, really wanted to hurt people. I wanted to hurt myself most of all. I wanted to hurt every single good person in my life, I wanted to scare them all away, and then I wanted to punish myself. The feeling that I always have is that of taking a knife and slicing it, right down my body…of taking my hands and removing all of the soft squishy guts, everything that makes me feel weak. I wanted to remove every single soft bit on my body, and I didn’t want to do it painlessly, I wanted to feel the sharp tang of the knife, I wanted to feel the sweet release of all of this weakness being removed from me. I wanted to feel relieved and like I could breathe again afterwards, hardened and strong.

I hate myself when I’m like this. Its a terrible circle…because when I am hating, I hurt people, and shout or want to hurt innocent animals. That then makes me hate myself the moment the rage begins to subside, and I think about how awful a person I am. That then in turn tends to turn me back to rage and hating myself, and you’re stuck in this cyclical pleasure ride.

Something pc said to me, (after sticking with me through that night, no matter how awful I was), was that she wants to know this part most of all, that she was the biggest protector… And I guess she was. Because all of the hate, all of the anger, became contained. It was separated, and it was felt when it was generally safe, and it was almost all directed inwards. She kept me safe, by making me angry at myself and nobody else. She kept me small, and feeling strong, and blaming myself. And that, in its own very screwed up way, kept me safe. It kept me from acting out and being on the receiving end of retaliation. And it kept me from the unbearable grief of placing that anger where it belongs and realising that no one would listen or help.

I  really want to end this with some lovely sentence or two to summarise, but I can’t, because really it just feels like one bloody big mess in my head.

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-eight: endings

in the wordpress app at the beginning of a fresh new unwritten post, it always prompts, ‘share your story here’…and tonight, with this word, seeing that just made me so unbelievably sad. like disproportionately sad, half a box of kleenex sad.

i hope to be able to explain all of that soon but tonight, i can’t. i can’t touch this word and i can’t share my story here. it’s all a bit beyond my capabilities at the moment.

i know we have about three whole readers of this blog but if the three of you could please just send care or mojo or fairy dust or good vibes or anything similar this way, i’d be so so grateful. it’s hard right now over here, and i need all the help I can get.