Tag Archives: Memories

Epiphany

I was sitting here tonight, trying to keep myself safe, because the urges have been strong tonight, writing and reading poetry, when all of a sudden I had an epiphany (at least, it felt that way).

All night I have been caught in the crossfire between the rational and irrational sides of me, wondering how I can make the incessant desire to kill myself disappear. I started with music, with music blaring in my ears, I wouldn’t hear the thoughts, right? Wrong.

Next I messaged the friends I knew were most likely to still be up at this time of night. After no response, I turned to the fridge for help, more specifically, the alcohol in the fridge (I rationalized by telling myself I wouldnt take my meds tonight, because I know not to mix the two).

None of it seems very rational, does it?

With a couple beers less in the fridge, I turned to the next thing that usually helps let the thoughts pass on, writing. Two unpublished, and one published poems later, I started to feel a little better.

Where is the epiphany, you ask? Well, after posting the latest poem, I started reading other blogs. It turns out, I’m not the only one feeling this way at the moment, so I left some comments of encouragement – things I would like someone to say to me, when I am like this. The epiphany came afer receiving replies, advising I had helped them feel better. The thoughts disappeared instantly, and all of a sudden, the last eight years flashed through my mind, and I realised helping someone else always gets me out the other side.

Let’s hope I don’t have to rely on that realisation too often.

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New View

As always, it has been quite a while since I have written here, but as time goes on, I have less and less to write about, in regards to my childhood, and my journey so far. But this post is relevant. It shows just how far I have come.

It was six years ago, yesterday, since I last saw my father, and last heard his voice. Yesterday, was the first time I have thought about June 28, 2012, in terms of my father and it being the last time I had seen him. Until yesterday, I had always thought of the date as the anniversary of the day my daughter, who was 14 at the time, showed me she had more strength than her mother, and pre-recorded her testimony for the trial. It was the anniversary of the start of her always blaming herself for my father’s death. It was the anniversary of the day I would name as the day my hatred of my father surpassed any previous hate I had felt by a thousand-fold – how dare he put my daughter through that!

But yesterday, I viewed it as the anniversary of the last time I saw and heard him.

The day is burned into my memory.

My daughter and I had been staying in a motel for a week leading up to that day, because there was a possibility the session would be moved forward. We were on edge and nervous, because we knew my father was also in town. On June 28, 2012, we went to the court house. My mother, step-father, brother, sister-in-law and niece met us there. We were asked to wait in the foyer in front of the court rooms. I immediately had a panic attack, because I knew my father was going to walk past us. I was terrified of seeing him.

Thankfully, the court staff were understanding, and found us an office to wait in.

Then my daughter and I met with her PACT support worker. By the end of that meeting I was falling apart emotionally and psychologically, and physically was not too far behind those. Going back to the office without my daughter, knowing what she was about to do, was too much for me to bear, as a person and as a mother. I knew in my heart my daughter was so much stronger than me. And in the time she was in the court, I came to understand I was not going to survive giving evidence and being cross-examined. It would cost me my life.

When it was over, and my father had left the building, we left the office and waited in the foyer to give my father time to leave the area.

At the front of the foyer was a wall of windows. I glanced out them, and my heart stopped – my father’s car was parked directly across the road, facing the building I was in. Almost simultaneously, I heard someone call out my father’s name. Moments later, I heard my father’s voice. My knees buckled, there was a roaring in my ears, and the ground tilted beneath my feet, at least, that is what it felt like.

That was the last time I heard him.

His conversation seemed to go on for hours, but eventually he walked across the road to his car. He got in and sat there, while making a phone call. again, it seemed to go on forever. Finally, he drove away.

We all went downstairs, and stood on the footpath while we discussed where would meet next, and my father drove past.

That was the last time I saw him.

And that is what I thought about yesterday.

I’m sorry for my hypocrisy

I'm sorry for my hypocrisy

I haven’t always been so true,

No one knows this more than you.

When your child was abused too,

I said, “This is what you should do.”

 

“You should definitely speak out!”

My words becoming a shout.

You should’ve given me a clout

And said, “Go sort yourself out.”

 

For yet, and all the while,

I was drowning in denial,

That though I continued to smile,

I was protecting a paedophile.

 

You slowly drifted away,

Saying, ‘’”We’re much too busy today,

For the kids to come and play.”

Our friendship was in decay.

 

In the intervening years,

I have shed so many tears,

For my cynicism and sneers,

Arising from my inner fears.

 

I miss you with a passion,

My heart and soul are ashen,

But not for my inaction,

We would still have interaction.

 

So, here for all to see,

Is my full apology,

For the person I used to be,

And my ignorant hypocrisy.

I just want to be normal

I Just want to be normal

I Just want to be normal

“I just want to be normal!” 

If only I had a dollar for every time I have said this, or any of its many variations, because I would be Rich, Rich, Rich – yes, Rich with a capital R!

My diaries are filled with this statement, along with “Why can’t I just be normal?”  “Why can’t I be like everyone else?” “If only I was normal!”

Guess what?  For what I had experienced in life, I was normal.  I was, and am, just like everyone else who has experienced some form of major trauma as a child.  The hell I have experienced while healing is the same hell others experience while they heal.  Yet, all the while, I just wanted to be normal.

What is ‘normal’ anyway?

For me, it was ‘normal’ for my father to have sex with me.  It’s just what he did.  It was ‘normal’ to never know from one minute to the next if there was a belting waiting for me when the next minute arrived.  It was ‘normal’ to not know from moment to moment if I was ‘loved’ or hated by my father.  It was ‘normal’ to show the world I was ‘normal’ according to society’s stereotypical standards, while at the same time asking myself why I couldn’t be ‘normal’.

The first time I remember verbalising that I was not normal was when I was 12.  My brother and I had been fighting, as we always did if ever we were in each other’s company for more than 30 seconds.  We were home alone and during the fight my brother had grabbed a large kitchen knife and started chasing me with it.  Eventually he caught me and knocked me to the ground.  As he held the knife to my throat I practically begged him to kill me.  I told him that he should do it because the world would be a better place without me because I wasn’t normal and should be in the ‘looney bin’ anyway.

He didn’t kill me.  In fact, telling him this had the opposite effect, and he helped me up off the ground and said, “No it wouldn’t Sis.”

My brother was 10 at the time.

It wasn’t until I started to understand what I experienced emotionally and psychologically was normal for people who live through child sexual abuse that I started to recognise how I continued verbally abusing myself.  I had fully taken on the role of abuser through my inner voice, telling myself I was useless, stupid, abnormal, crazy.  I came to believe, absolutely, that I was insane.

My only ‘insanity’ was the inability to process my trauma in a way that would release it, rather than relive it.

The process is long, slow, and unbelievably painful.  It cannot be expressed in words.  It is a very lonely road, because although you may be lucky enough to have a ‘support system’ unless those around you have experienced exactly what you have experienced, there is no way they can comprehend what you are going through.  Every moment of healing feels like you have to fight your way, kicking and screaming, to find even enough air to breathe, let alone find the strength to function in any ‘normal’ capacity.

For a while I didn’t want to be normal.  I craved complete loss of function.  I thought it an exceptionally cruel twist of fate that, although there were days when all I could manage was to pull the covers up and a pillow over my head, I was still able to hold down a job, be a mother, be a partner, and work on my healing all at the same time.  I envied people who could just withdraw from life completely.

In hindsight, I am glad I was able to keep going, even if it was in a reduced capacity.  I did withdraw from the world, but not completely.  I did want to die so very badly – but I didn’t.

So, am I ‘normal’?  According to some, I am not.  According to others, I am.  According to myself?  I don’t always conform to society’s norms, but I am not a complete deviate either – I am me – and for ‘me’ I am normal.

Peer support through blogging

Peer Support

Peer Support

One of my reasons for returning to study is that I would like to set up an organisation whose sole purpose is peer support for adults (both women and men) who experienced abuse as a child.

After making the decision to take action instead of remaining silent, I sought answers to all the questions I had about going through the legal process, as well as general questions relating to whether I was ‘normal’.  I wanted to know, for instance, what happened during the legal process, how I could help ensure the safety of my step-mother, how I could help ensure the safety of others at risk from my father, how do you write a victim impact statement, how do I keep functioning when all I want to do is fall into oblivion…

First I approached one of the most prominent organisations in Queensland for victims of child sexual abuse.  Their reply was, “I’m so sorry to hear about what you have been through, and particularly what has happened for you and your family recently. Breaking the silence about child sexual assault is very difficult for victims and dealing with the impacts of this takes a lot of courage…” which sounded promising, but they then went on to advise they were unable to assist me, and had I heard of this other organisation that was based interstate.

On contacting the said interstate organisation, I was again advised, “sorry, we can’t help you.”

I was blessed to have one of the most amazing human beings, in the form of a detective, looking after my case, and following his suggestion, I contacted an organisation that supports victims of crime.  I received a number of fact sheets in the mail that contained all the information I was already aware of, and no specific information that could help me find the answers I was looking for.

I felt totally alone.

Yet again it seemed as though I was going to have to fight hard to get through the living hell I was experiencing, and to do it under my own steam and initiative.  I was so tired of fighting.

I was extremely lucky to have a circle of family and friends that supported me, but there was only so much they could do.  Unfortunately, they were as much in the dark about what was happening and what was coming my way as I was.  I knew no-one who had already ‘been there’ to help guide me and keep me in touch with my sanity.

At my lowest point, my partner quite strongly advised I should call Lifeline.  Very reluctantly, I did.

For an hour there was a person, a total stranger, at the other end of the phone, trying to help me hang on to the small thread of strength inside me that wanted to live.

The degree of difficulty in telling my story, yet again, to a total stranger, can not be described in words – it is something you have to experience to really understand.  However, I am so glad that I managed it, and I am ever so grateful to that person who did not judge me, who did not tell me I was stupid for wanting to die, and who helped me onto the path of understanding just how much I really wanted to live.

Within hours of that conversation, I received a call from a family member who was having severe difficulties of their own.  My immediate reaction was to go to their aid.  My partner was concerned about me doing so, given that only hours before he had taken me to the hospital in a suicidal state.

What I came to understand, however, was that helping other people also helped me.  Listening to their perspective helped me see my problems from a different point of view.  Understanding how they were impacted by the environment I grew up in allowed me to start putting the pieces of me back together.

From this small beginning, I became determined that one day I would create an organisation that would not turn people away if they needed someone to talk to.  A safe place in which people could share their stories and help each other help themselves.  Somewhere people could contact others who had similar experiences that could shed some light on how you get through it – can you really get out of the darkness?

This organisation is still my dream.  Every day I am working towards it.

What I am finding, however, is that there is already an amazing peer support circle in existence – it can be found through blogging!

There are some incredibly courageous souls out there who are breaking the silence and sharing their experiences in online blogs.  Some are just starting the healing journey, some are in the deepest depths of darkness, and others are emerging on the other side of ‘hell’ and finding there really is light in the world after all.

The stories that I read, the people I converse with, and the information I am gathering has been amazing.  Strong, brave, men and women, are already out there, selflessly and unconsciously providing peer support for others.

You are all my unsung heroes, and I salute you!  Please keep writing, no matter how alone you feel, because I assure you, you are not alone, and the things that you write about are, and have been, experienced by others.  Your blogs not only help break the silence, they provide hope for others along the way.

Acknowledging the pain of others

Growing through pain

Growing through pain

People like me, who write about their experiences of child sexual abuse, do not intentionally set out to cause other people pain.  Unfortunately, however, we do.

When we are lucky enough to have people in our lives who are supportive, and willing to try to understand the impact of what we have lived through, it is sometimes difficult to balance the work of creating awareness and the desire not to hurt those we care about and who care about us.

Some may call us insensitive, or selfish, in our desire/need to speak out.  Personally, I am not insensitive to the pain I cause.  I know it is there.  It hurts me to know it is the result of my actions.  However, I do not deliberately set out to hurt people.

Why do I write?

I write because I have to write.  Writing is something I have done for most of my life, although until 2010, all of my writing was in secret.  During the darkest period of healing, from 2011 until recently, I tried to keep my writing hidden and yet still raise awareness of the long-term impacts of child-sexual abuse.  I did this because I know what I write can cause pain to people close to me.

Why did I have to ‘come out’?

Trying to write as someone else, using a fake name, and fake persona, really starts messing with your head.  Particularly when you have spent two and a half solid years smashing down the barriers and vowing to break the silence.  I found myself questioning my ethics and my values.  There I was, telling all and sundry about how important it was to speak out, but hiding my true identity.  I started to feel like I used to – that I had to have a face that I showed the world, and another that had to be hidden at all costs.  There was no integrity in that.

If I wanted to be true to me, and put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, I had to make a decision to either back off and remain silent, or be truly open and honest.

Honesty won.

The flip-side of this, of course, is now those close to me are confronted with my writing on a day-to-day basis.  The end result is pain.

Why do I have to write about child sexual abuse?

There are a couple of reasons for this – first, I write what I know.  It is so much easier for me to write from experience than to write from imagination.  Tied in with this, is the healing writing brings for me.  Yes, even my short stories are generally dark, but usually it is because something inside me needs to be fixed and it just appears on the page in front of me.

Second, I write about child sexual abuse to raise awareness – not that child sexual abuse happens, but that the impacts of repeated trauma as a child never go away – they do lessen in strength, but they NEVER go away.

Third, I write about child sexual abuse because I know that while I sit here, in my comfy chair, in a warm and cosy house, with all of my basic needs met, there are children being sexually abused, beaten, neglected, sold into prostitution, and having all sorts of other horrendous things done to them at this very moment.  I cannot sit here in silence.  Awareness needs to be raised.  Something needs to be done, and all I can do at this point in time is write.

Children are so very precious.

I am sorry for the pain I cause.  I am sorry that the things I write also brings back bad memories for you.  However, to those close to me, there are some  things I would like to say:

  • You are not responsible for what happened to me.  The person who abused me – the person that could have chosen not to abuse me – is no longer with us, but it is important to understand that the responsibility for what happened was his, and his alone.  The rest of us have been involuntarily caught up in the consequences of his behaviour.  Do not blame yourself.
  • I am well.  I know the last few years have seen me crash to the deepest depths, but right here, right now, today, I am well, and I have been for some months now.
  • Just because I write about what happened to me does not mean it is the only thing I think about – it no longer consumes me the way that it did.
  • The past cannot be changed – it is what it is.  All we can do is enjoy the here and now, and have hope for the future.  My way of doing that is by sharing my experiences.  You never know, someone else might find them useful.

I am truly grateful for the support I have around me.  Knowing that I hurt them is not a nice feeling.  If I could wave a magic want to erase it, I would.  For now, all I can do is love the people around me and support them as they have supported me.

My heartfelt thanks to the ‘inner circle’ who have seen me at my worst and are hanging in there to see me at my best.  I love you all from the bottom of my heart.

Moving

Moving

A moving story

Four days!  Four whole days!  Can you believe it?

I was relaxing by the window, just enjoying the view, when suddenly I was locked in a car.  I had no idea where I was going.  I couldn’t get out.  I had no room to run.  The car was jam-packed with stuff.  Stuff!

I cried.  I howled.  I expressed my unhappiness is so many ways.

The first day was not too bad.  It was a relatively short journey.  I was so excited when the car stopped.  I thought I’d have a chance to escape, but it wasn’t to be.  I was locked in a bathroom!  A bathroom!  You’ve got to be kidding?

No light.  No company.  Just me, the cold floor tiles, a shower and a toilet.  I was given a pillow to lie on, but what was the point?  I scratched at the door.  I cried some more.  Let me out!

Eventually I collapsed from exhaustion.

I saw the sun through the bars on the window the next morning.  I hoped to be going home.  She was talking to me through the door.  Telling me everything was going to be okay.  I didn’t believe her.

I was locked in the car once more.  I had no idea where we were going or how long it would take.  It seemed like forever.

The car stopped.  I was manhandled and told to go to the toilet.  Excuse me?   The indignity!  I didn’t need to go, well, I did, but I wasn’t going to urinate on command.

Back in the car.  Hours and hours and hours went by.  The light began to fade as the sun went down.  Again I was dragged out of the car and dumped in a small room.  At least it wasn’t a bathroom, I guess.

This time there was a comfy bed.  Some nice food, and some milk.  I still cried.  I still voiced my disapproval.  I just wanted to go home.  Why was she doing this to me?

Day three and it was back in the car.  I was too drained to fight.  The heat was unbearable.  I was panting like a dog.  A dog, of all things!  She stopped the car and put a rope around my neck.  She took me to a river.  I froze.  Petrified she was going to drown me in it.  I couldn’t move.  I didn’t know what to do.  The heat!  The flies! 

I didn’t drown, but I almost wish I had.  Back in the car!  This time I just hid.  I buried myself under all of the stuff.  Who cared about the heat?  I didn’t want to know.

Another small room as the sun went down.  Another bed, but not so comfy.  I slid under the covers and curled up tight.  I just hoped this would all end soon.

Day four.  She was excited.  Her voice became shrill.  It was painful to hear.  She was waffling about how great it was going to be.  Great?  Locked in a car for days on end?  What planet was this being on?  This was the furthest thing from great I could think of.  How dare she drag me away from home?  How dare she keep me from escaping?  How dare she even think that I would enjoy this?

The car stopped.  “We’re here!” she shrieked.

Where’s ‘here’?  What?  A house?

My confused mind had been addled by the trip.  I no longer knew where I was, what day it was, and I almost forgot who I was. 

Four days!  Four whole days!  It took four days to get here – to my new home.