Wednesday, October 17, 2018

My Heart Belongs to Me

As a survivor of abuse, so much emotional distress can come from political news. The #metoo movement, rape culture and abuse culture being all over the news can set me into a place of panic.

These feelings leave unseen marks on my being. The panic shows in quiet fitful sleep moments. I do talk about it out in the open AND I keep it to myself. At the same time.

Been thinking about all the Keep Calm and Carry On strategies I employ silently. We just recently saw the documentary about Mr. Rogers and I've always loved his thinking on "look for the helpers." Sometimes there is only me. I am a good helper to others and myself.

I like that about me. This blog, other places and to myself, I can help. I can mother my unruly inner children. I can remind my stuffy adult self to remember moments of perfect beauty and pure laughing joy.

Saw this video by a counselor where she says that the goal is to get to where we think "this shitty thing happened," but we don't curl up in a ball and cry every time we think of it. Lots of my story is like that. Just history. (her story)

Lots of times I have to employ a "strategy" to get to the shitty thing because it's a shitty thing rolled in broken glass and cactus needles. To "deal" with them requires special gloves and a plan.

I own some lovely dishes that depict iris flowers. When putting them away on the open shelf, Murry sometimes puts them with the flower facing away. To him, they're just dishes. To me, they're a piece of art that happens to be useful.

I can turn my past to face the flowers to the outside. Displaying the mosaic that is me in the best light. Seeing the "broken" bits as just a part of the pattern, rather than the whole of the thing.

Such reframing takes a lot of effort and the right kind of gloves. I've spoken before about feeling pain so deep that I wished my life was over. For a real long time, my strategy was; "I'm too much of a fuck up, I'll just end up worse off." While that is slightly still there, I found that I want to also see the future. Way better.

So taking the broken glass and prickly bits out and filling the cracks with gold. I've been an artist for longer than I even realized.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


This post isn't about tears alone, but I thought it was a good starting emotion. I thought so back when I first realized how much trauma I survived and it's still my go to first reaction most of the time.

I suffered. A lot. Piles of pain and most of it before the age of 10. 

When a baby falls down learning to walk, sometimes it cries because it's scared or hurt. It's a way to let those bigger beings in charge to come help fix the "bad" thing. 

Most girls learn that it is okay to cry over a loss or an emotional situation like a friend moving away. Maybe some boys do too. Sometimes the bigger beings say shitty emotionally repressive things like "I'll give you something to cry about." Usually when they're hurting you. Crazy making that.

Girls are NOT supposed to be angry. But boys are sometimes encouraged to do angry things like punch each other, kick over blocks and generally use a n outburst to get their way. 

The onion of person existence has many other emotions, but I'll stick to those two for the moment. 

I like the nature of onions because as a metaphor it's both common and not entirely understood. Other things, like a package, has layers atop a reason for the layers. Onions ARE the layers. No center exists for finding. 

Some onions are even hollow at the middle. Like someone swiped the prize. 

Perfect for metaphor. 

The layers ARE the prize. 

When I bring out the memories of my trauma and count them, the first emotional layer presenting usually involves tears. I've long ago decided that's how my body begins the healing process. 

First, clean the wound. Then assess what to do.

Though some of this is simply about "grief process" and it moves through stages, some things need to come first. I've written previously about counting and compelling incidents. 

Through some kind of weird instinct I knew I had to have time to cry for as long as I needed. Then I moved into righteous anger for as long as that serves me. It's starting to wane. 

I still cry, I am sure I will still be angry over stuff for a really long time. The more I tell the story, the more it becomes personal history. 

I think what's next is compassion. 

It all seems so natural, nuanced and ordered. Layers peeling away, tearing up and falling from view. 

Kind comments encouraged. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Too Late

Carole King wrote this breakup song about romance, but I think it applies to any kind of relationship that doesn't work. I have lots of them.

First, there was my mother who abandoned me at birth. Not like to strangers, mom still lived in the household. She just made my sister care for me.

Then sister abandoned me when she went off to have a family of her own. They tell me how much of a fit I pitched about all that. I wanted to step on my nephew.

My parents divorced and I lived with dad. He abandoned me too. He left both my sister and I to a babysitter woman with her own kids. She severely abused me and made my sister her slave. The abusive guardian abandoned me to a state run place for misbehaving children.

I went to live with mom and her new asshole husband. After a year, mom abandoned me again. Back to oldest sister who once again made it clear how much she resented taking care of me.

My sister met a man she wanted to move in with and sent me back to live with mom. Soon after she divorced asshole and took up with another guy. A tiny bit less asshole and at least was kind to me. He wasn't kind to mom, though. They married.

It only lased six months or so, they divorced, but I stayed with mom. She had a boyfriend for a while and then a few years later she met married and divorced jerk #5. I guess you could say I got abandoned by those guys, but the time they were in my life was so short. I did have a decent enough friendship with a couple of the men.

Mom abandoned me once again and dad moved into her room and took a little care of us for a few months. Without mom to pay the bills, the trailer house got lost to the bank and my middle sister and I moved in briefly with my oldest sister.

I know I've told all this before, I thought it needed a rehashing as I haven't posted in a while. Middle sister and I shared an apartment while I went to high school. Things were okay until mom started coming around and eating our food and getting us into hassles with our landlord.

I left to start my adult life far away from all the messy family bullshit. I turned 18 soon after.

At 19, I met a guy who I would marry six years later. He was the best I knew how to pick and we spent a total of nine years together. While I wish I had known how to pick better, I did the best I could.

The lyrics of Too Late come to mind, "though we really did try to make it, something inside has died and I just can't fake it." And "there'll be good times again for me and you, but we just can't stay together can't you feel it too. I'm glad for what we had and how I once loved you."

Deep truth in that. And it holds true for my family. I quit talking to my mother and sisters pretty early into my adult life. Really it was too late the day I was born. That's super sad for them. They couldn't see my precious shiny soul.

Kind comments encouraged.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

We are family, Manson family

Most days being an abuse survivor doesn't even come up. Especially after years of recovery work and a great mental toolkit. Then there's today.

Today events conspired to push me toward the edge of a massive freak out. To a "normal" family (as if there is such a thing), death will create sadness and other emotional reactions. Sure there's anger in the stages of grief, I just think mine is pretty much the only feeling.

I wrote about it with my sister's dying a few months back. I was/am angry with my sister. Even still, I wish her peace. Mixed that. Angry Peace.

So when my mother died, I got all this paperwork about her estate. My sister was in charge of dealing with all that and it was pretty clear that she left only debt. I guess my sister kept doing something with their business because she started sending me tax partnership paperwork for it.

Like, my sister didn't contact me to say hello or share a moment of reminisce, but she sends me tax paperwork.

Now she's dead and I get an email from a law office trying to get my contact information so they can send me more paperwork regarding my mother.

I wanted to scream "GO FUCK YOURSELVES!" Instead, I emailed back that I want nothing to do with any of my family and they reply that they have to send me something to sigh to that effect. After I calmed down, I replied that I would NOT sign anything having to do with any of this. Still thinking "go fuck yourselves."

It all feels like somehow my family is going to try and screw me over again. Abuse doesn't stop with the death of the abuser. Abuse culture strikes again.

Yesterday, the attorney who began emailing me somehow got my phone number and called me. He left a frustrated voicemail and asked me to call him back. I figured I should get myself calm before I talk to him. I am going to try VERY HARD not to tell him... you know.. go fuck yourself...

So I didn't swear, I did express my own frustration at the whole situation. He must have taken some mad communication skills in college cuz I hung up the phone feeling heard.

It's still upsetting.

Writing it out helps. Singing "I Will Survive," at the top of my lungs helps. "I should have changed the locks, I should have made you leave your key, if I thought for one second you'd be back to bother me. Now, GO, bar the door! Turn around, you're not wanted anymore! Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye? You think I'd crumble, you think I'd lay down and die? OH NO NOT I! I WILL SURVIVE!"

Angry. Peace.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


I posted this to Facebook and that's for friends only, I'm hoping this will reach a wider audience. Yet another #metoo story and mine has kind of a twist. I kind of forgot about it until my journalism adviser made a post commenting on her own timeline.

To say I forgot may be going to far. Indeed I do acutely remember the incident and my whole feelings about it. More accurately, I put it out of my mind as being "not as bad" as plenty of other events in my life. I thought I might be overreacting.

Two adult male students called me vile names that no one should ever call women. And they did it in an email.

That's the problem with #metoo. Women chalk up a lot of events to not being a big deal. No one showed me their penis or invited me to their private room or chased me.

I could say that in one way this was kind of worse. It attacked me inside my house with all my doors and windows securely locked. It brought up all the mistreatment I suffered at the hands of the perpetrators that were just minor skirmishes on the very real "war on women," in the society as a whole.

And it's "just an email."

A brief background for context, I went back to college at 31. I took a magazine writing class and while I did learn some valuable things, the best part was meeting a sweet linguist in her 60's with a passion for words. Felecia dragged me into taking more journalism.

I didn't like newspapers and I didn't want to work for one. I liked magazines and she asked me to take a class on that at the same time. That I LOVED.

I also really liked the journalism instructor for her no nonsense approach to teaching. I wrote a couple of stories for the paper as part of the class and made good grades.

I signed up for the newspaper class with the intent to see how I could do something with the Internet. In 1996, not that many newspapers were online. I almost dropped out in the beginning, but the adviser asked me to stay and work on the web aspect of news.

I came up with a plan for a free page and started publishing about a month into the semester. The publication site had a feature to add more data for $5 a month and my journalism instructor thought that was worth the money. I had to take the pages home to upload because there wasn't student access to the net at that time. I spent several hours on publication days collecting stories and eventually photos and arranging them for web based publication.

I started asking for the print page editors to make sure to leave their disks behind so I could collect the stories without having to hunt for the information. Some editors resented this. I also asked to be put on the masthead as web editor and pushed my way onto the editorial board. Also tense.

I hung around the newsroom on print production day to help with copyediting (looking over stories for errors) and to remind editors to leave their disks. One male page editor griped at me so harshly I left the room in tears. I don't remember what topic set me off, but I do remember it was something about my competence.

All the women in the room chased after me including the instructor. They all told me that kid had made every one of them cry. I still feel bad that "I let people get to me like that." Like I'm weak (I'm not), but that's the feeling.

 I don't think I have ever really thought about how this all went down. Working on a college paper is like trying to bail water out of a leaky boat. It's crazed and maddening under the best of circumstances, add a handful of testosterone addled males with a shitty attitude and it just sucks.

Three of those semesters I edited the opinion page from a computer in another room. I am thankful for that separation. I'm also thankful I wasn't trying to create the web publication on the same day.

Keep in mind I taught myself every single aspect of web editing. I had some help with print page editing from an awesome fellow student, but none of them could tell me out to move a story from the desktop publishing software to a text file. I was on my own.

Once I figured out how to make a text file, I had to solve a confounding mystery that they would crash the web editor every time I copied the text onto them. I figured out the desktop publishing software inserted a new paragraph code and so I had to remove them with a plain text editor before using the story. Even with search and replace, 20 some files had to be opened, searched and saved.

I asked students to help, but they rarely showed up. At one point, one of the photo students came in to help scan photos and that cut a big chunk of my time. Lovely young Asian gal, I wish I could remember her name.

So here was my day on average. Arrive 10 a.m.. Collect disks or search computers for the page files, download stories to my own disk naming them to the order, page 1 story a etc. takes about 45 minutes. Strip codes & add title and byline an hour. If I have to scan photos, 5 minutes each to scan, crop & add caption canvas to the image. Even if it's just a tiny image on the page, it still takes all those steps.

Oh, and the scanner is on Mac and the web editor is on PC. Back then, I had to make sure the file name was done precisely, no spaces, or the PC wouldn't read it. After I had the images, I would take them to the PC make the caption canvas part of the image black in color, add captions to it. This took another hour. We're about 4 hours in and haven't even opened the web editing software.

About another hour to move all the text into the web editor and get it in order and connect images to stories. Then I go home and upload and test and adjust.

Okay, typing this all out, I'm super pissed off right now. I worked my ASS off. Virtually alone and those kids had the FUCKING AUDACITY to question my competence. Two years of my life I spent and I came in summers and did it for NO CREDIT.

So the end of my last semester, I have a conversation with my adviser about who will take over the reigns of the web page and how they want to do it for next year. Some of the students had complained that I wouldn't let anyone "help" which was a bold faced lie. My adviser suggested that I invite them to come in on the last day and learn how it's done and I did that. No one showed.

She told me that they would have to work on their own and I agreed.

I wasn't even taking any journalism classes the next semester. I started writing for a local weekly and got a cover story. Things were going well.

I don't recall what was going on, but the college wanted to stop paying the $5 monthly fee to the page hosting site and move to a different server. I emailed the instructor that they'd lose the archive and she said she'd look into moving the old stories. I was busy doing other things and I didn't pay much attention to the issue.

I believe it was even Halloween night I see a strange email and I was way more trusting back then, I decided to open it. Someone from the journalism department started out saying I'll be found out for the horrible a person I was. How I'd fooled "Mrs. B"(journalism adviser). They were gonna make sure she knew. Then they used several vile words, the tamest being bitch.

I did a search for the email address and traced it to the mother of one of the students who constantly harassed me in the newsroom. My guess that he and his buddy (the one who made me cry) got drunk and were pissed off at me over the loss of the newspaper archive.

I printed a copy and took it to the journalism adviser, the photo adviser and the head of the student's services department. Mrs. B's anger surprised me with it's ferocity and she took it up with campus police. I just wanted someone to talk to those guys and maybe give them some kind of reprimand.

The college's excuse was that it was sent to my private email. So nothing was done other than a little hand wringing.

One of the guys disappeared for the rest of the semester, but he came back the next. I went to Europe to study so I just let it alone. Even when he got selected to be editor of the magazine I edited twice. I let it alone.

A few years ago, the guy who made me cry sent me a friend request on Facebook. I'm not sure if I actually messaged him or just thought it, "You're fucking kidding me right??"

#metoo for realz.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Because of You

A few months back I posed about "rape culture" with several examples of why I feel we live inside one. Notably at the time a rapist received a very short sentence and the judge and his dad spoke of him glowingly.

The survivor, on the other hand, felt destroyed.

Today someone on my Facebook timeline suggested we live in an abuse culture because people disparage and or make fun of college kids for asking for "safe spaces." They suggest that kids don't get safe spaces in childhood. Is it any wonder they practically demand them when they get old enough to voice an opinion.

My first thought was, PLEASE NO! DON'T LET THIS BE TRUE! Then I cried. Then I opened this blog window and started to find a song to put as a title. The first thing that came up was a PLAYLIST of abuse songs.

FFS, there's a whole LIST of abuse songs. For fucking fucks sake! I live in an abuse culture and I write a blog abut abuse and I didn't realize it until today.

I'm going to throw up the caution tape here. Don't read if you are easily triggered by stories of abuse responses.
I felt pain because of the abuse I survived as a child. As I grew up I didn't want to suffer in silence so I tended to overshare with anyone.

Though I still do this, I'm still smarting from some of the SHIT people told me. So much of this makes me sad, but just as much made me ANGRY. There's a new word term that I've adopted.. Sangry. It has a little S for the sad part and the whole word angry.

Here's what happened. I told a male friend during an online conversation that I'd seen a statistic that about 1 in 4 girls get molested as children. He doubted that was true. Even though I said I thought it was higher because most of my girlfriends reported something happening to them. Then he suggested it must be "part of life."

My shock freaked me out. I was in the very early stages of my recovery and very sensitive about it all. I did have enough presence of mind to end my association with that guy.

Another time another online conversation with a male somehow the topic of rape came up and a guy started talking about how he'd love to be raped. To say I lost my shit would be an understatement. Again, I never spoke to that person again.

As a child, one of my teachers ignored me when another kid hurt me. She even abused me herself. Many times my pains were ignored as "growing pains."


I don't want to live in an abuse culture anymore than I wanted to live in a rape culture! I don't want to live in a world that has to have places that "stand out" for their care of kids.

Many people have experienced some trouble in their past. Some people use that as an excuse to end discussion. John Bradshaw says that all the birds can be flying in the wrong direction. That doesn't make the direction "right."

Several organizations now work to help children and adults adapt to flying the wrong direction. Usually they start with accepting the reality that people were harmed, intentional or not.

None of us can change the status quo until we understand the debth of the problem.

It's well past time we #endabuseculturenow

Kind comments welcome.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

You were on my mind

I loved my daddy. I miss the ornery old coot.

It saddens me that he perpetuated abuse with my mother and my brother. I accept that deeply troubling flaw made their and his life more miserable. He also said racist things.

I've had lots of people in my life who said things that turned my stomach and made my blood boil. I value a rational take on the world more than any other viewpoint. Prejudice bugs me.

I challenged myself. It confuses me when other people choose to stay in the shitty family traditions they were raised with. If something fails to serve you and your community, why keep it around?

I lived with a guy exhibited the same kind of armchair racism my daddy held onto. I didn't realize it until he mentioned how uncomfortable he would be living in a predominately very nice black neighborhood. He learned it from his dad.

My dad, my roommate and his dad all lacked the self awareness to change their minds. None of them would be marching or hurting anyone directly. They all would speak loudly and inaccurate about the differences between races. Spouting.statistics completely out of context. I tried to find ways around their racism and failed.

Making changes to one's life has unforeseen costs and benefits. Someone may not see the advantage to opening up to diversity. To do so may set one apart from family.

When I called dad and told him I wanted to come visit him, he asked if my now husband was black. He had enough awareness of my character to know that I would date someone based on their character. I don't think he would have rejected me outright, but it sure would have caused tension between us for a while.

The first way I started challenging my own believes came from realizing that people judged me solely on my lack of pigment in my skin. Kids beat me up and adults praised me all for something I had zero input in creating. I thought that I would be hypocritical to do the same to anyone else.

Later, I started realizing that diversity builds beauty and stability. Nature made our skin different to take advantage of the benefits of sunlight. That's it. Just like nature made the beaks of finches different so they could eat the different food sources available to them.

Speaking of food, where would we be if we didn't have a tasty variety of Italian, Mexican or Chinese cuisine? What about the art and history of far flung nations? I don't believe in god and even I can see the value of Michelangelo's Pieta or David.

I want more compassion and joy in my life. I want more joy and compassion for people who happen to be black, or brown too.

When people start using history to maintain bigotry, I will call that out. My love for my daddy does not give him a pass. It does give me some hope that there are other qualities inside the hearts of people who have hate for people with different skin colors. I failed with opening dad's heart.

I'm gonna keep at it. Maybe something will get through.

Kind comments encouraged.