Archive for November, 2011

Woods (c) Lynda BernhardtI have been working on recovering a memory for a while, and I finally got enough of it to blog about. I am still reeling from it (writing this the morning after), so I am just going to write the memory. I haven’t had time to process it yet.

A few nights ago, I “saw” myself standing in the woods. It was this time of year – most of the leaves had fallen from the trees, but the leaves on the ground were still fairly fresh. It was during the daytime, and I saw the people in black hooded robes walking toward me. They were scattered, coming from different directions as if none of them were together and just randomly happened to be walking toward me in the woods. I rarely have memories of the ritual abuse happening during the day, which was disconcerting.

That’s as far as I got the other night. Then, last night (I am writing this on Monday morning), my head started hurting really badly like it does when I have a memory coming. I saw that one hooded figure was carrying a body – a limp body with the hair hanging down toward the ground. The body wasn’t held in a loving way like when you cradle a hurt child. It was held out to be dramatic – “Look! See! This child is dead.”

I tried to absorb seeing a “dead” body when the next wave of the flashback came – that body was of my baby sister. At this point, I experienced internal conflict. The adult me knows that my sister is alive today, but the child me believed her baby sister was dead. I had to reconcile the internal conflict by validating the horror of seeing my sister dead while, at the same time, reassuring myself that she is alive today.

Then, the next wave came – They were carrying her to me because I had “killed” her. That piece is just in flashes with the adult me filling in the blanks. They forced me to smother her with something (a rag?? a pillow??) laced with chloroform or equivalent. I was very gentle because I didn’t want to smother her, but the substance knocked her out, and I believed she was dead from me smothering her.

Then, back to the woods … They were carrying her body there for me to bury. I couldn’t handle any more and shut it down. I tossed and turned for hours, unable to sleep. I am exhausted this morning, and my head really hurts.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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On my blog entry entitled Orgasm during Rape or Other Form of Sexual Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:

I’ll tell you what [sexual abuse] is…it is a theft. Theft in every sense of the word. A recognition about the biology of young lives and sexuality and that our bodies are just NATURALLY WIRED TO RESPOND SEXUALLY…is NO EXCUSE for these monsters to take advantage of this. They impose upon a very real theft and imposition… ~ Brenda

I really like the term “theft” being applied to raping a child, which is what sexual abuse is. This is what bothers me so much about NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) trying to sell sexual contact between a man and a boy as consensual “love.” The boy does not know or appreciate what is being stolen from him, so he cannot consent to the sexual contact.

What was stolen from me when I was raped as a child? My innocence. The wonder about what sex might be like. My dreaming and hoping and thinking about what my first sexual experience might be like. My choice in pacing what I would like to experience now and what I would like to wait to experience. My choice of who my first sexual partner would be.

I have never experienced giving away a little more and a little more until I climax into bliss. Once I reached what was supposed to be the climax, a whole pile of dirty laundry fell all around me, ruining what should have been beautiful. I couldn’t figure out why that part of my body “dried up,” causing intercourse to be painful throughout my honeymoon.

A belief that sex is a way of expressing love has been stolen from me, and I don’t know if I will ever get it back. As my child moves into puberty, I want to tell him about the beauty and specialness of sex when I don’t believe in it myself. My ability to prepare him for what lies ahead is gone – I don’t know what it is like for a normal child to experience sexuality normally.

I have been married for two decades and continue to feel conflicted toward sex. I had multiple orgasms as a raped little girl – orgasms that made me feel sick to my stomach and hate myself – but they elude me in a loving marriage. An entire aspect of my life and marriage was stolen before I should have even known what sex was.

I am healing in this area and will continue to heal, but I will never get back what was stolen from me. Sex will alway be complicated and complex when it should be simple. What breaks my heart is having the wonder stolen. That must be such a beautiful part of coming of age, but I will never know because it was stolen from me.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I was attending a sleepover at a school/church function (places where I felt safe as a child). I was tired and went to sleep early. The beds for the sleepover were lined up against the wall like you see in an orphanage or boarding school. Other people were still coming and milling about while I slept. I could never really drop off.

My body was “out,” but my mind was aware as my ex-friend took the bed next to me. My mind was on full alert even while my body slept. (This was my norm as a child.) She moved my body around to make sure I was really asleep.

Then, my dream went into flashback mode. I felt her pulling the covers off my body, just as when I was a child, and I felt the weight of her body climbing onto mine. This wasn’t a nightmare – this was a full-fledged reliving of every detail of experiencing it.

As a child, I would dissociate, leaving my body for the ceiling while my abuser did whatever he or she wanted with my body. In my dream, however, I fought back. I couldn’t move anything other than my head because of the weight, but I bit her right on the nose and kept biting with everything I had in me. I woke up with my heart racing.

In real life, my body was extremely exhausted, so I dropped back off to sleep and re-entered the dream. I was packing up my stuff and leaving the sleepover. I told the leaders that my ex-friend had attacked me, but they seemed oblivious/unconcerned. I went home.

Then, I and my sister were forced to have a play date with the ex-friend. Her mother kept trying to patch things over, and I had to pretend like everything was OK, even though it wasn’t. I knew I couldn’t let my guard down for a second, but I had to pretend that everything was normal.

I had this nightmare on the day after Thanksgiving, and I have already written about the nightmare from Thanksgiving night. If I am going to have nightmares every night until Christmas, it’s going to be a long holiday season.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Thanksgiving was Hard

I went into Thanksgiving with low expectations and also feeling a bit relieved to have something to do after the in-laws left. The in-laws always come for exactly 70 minutes and then peel out as quickly as they can. I decided to view Thanksgiving as a large meal rather than a holiday or event. I am glad I did this because I just rolled my eyes when each in-law “forgot” something and left as soon as they arrived, causing us to have to “hold” the meal while they attended to their respective “I forgots.”

A friend invited my son and me over to her house for Thanksgiving after our own, so my son, who is an only child, got to play with other children on Thanksgiving for the first time EVER! He was in heaven, which was a blessing to me as well. I am so grateful he got to have that fun time on the holiday.

Thanksgiving was painful for me, though. The one at my house was nothing but people eating and complimenting the food. There was no emotional intimacy whatsoever – no sharing stories, talking about what we are thankful for, or really anything to distinguish this meal from any other meal other than the elaborate feast.

The Thanksgiving at my friend’s house was wonderful, which just drove home the emptiness of my own. Both sets of in-law were there and (gasp!) stayed long than 70 minutes. They each shared one thing they were thankful for. They shared family stories going back to the great-grandmothers. There was lively conversation and laughter. They didn’t rush through eating so they could peel out and nap – they lingered, which is what I always thought Thanksgiving was supposed to be like.

We ate off the great-grandmother’s dishes. There was a sense of connectivity that I don’t have in my life. My father is dead, and my mother is momster. I only have one living grandparent, and while I know she loves me “in her own way” (which is the only way I was ever loved as a child), there’s no real bond.

My son and I left after three hours, and the Thanksgiving celebration was still going strong. I felt an overwhelming need to cry but didn’t want to do it in front of my kid. When we got home, I thought hub’s feeling would be hurt that we had been gone for four hours (my friend’s house is a 30-minute drive), but he seemed disappointed that we were home so quickly.

I haven’t felt such as strong urge to drink since I stopped drinking in July. I resisted solely because I didn’t want to extend the feelings of sadness. I tried to let myself feel the sadness and then gave myself some relief with Xanax at bedtime.

I had very disturbing dreams. The Thanksgiving friend took me to my house, and every room was covered in animal urine or feces from dogs, a lion, and a third animal I don’t remember. I got more and more upset as I walked room to room and saw the excrement everywhere. Half of my bedroom’s carpet was thoroughly soaked in dog urine. I was so overwhelmed, not knowing where to start, that I just shut down. I laid down and was dissociated in my dream.

My other close friend thought I was having a nightmare and whispered in my ear, “You are not alone, and you are loved.” That was exactly what I needed to hear, and I reacted by releasing the emotions. I was still asleep and starting moaning/wailing (can’t think of the right word – releasing very deep emotions in a guttural way), which made her think she did something wrong, so she left. That upset me even more because I needed to let it out, but I didn’t want to be abandoned in the filth.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Getting through Thanksgiving

PhotobucketHow is everyone doing with the holidays upon us? I am doing surprisingly well, all things considered.

So far, things have been hard, which is usual for me, but I am finding that I am dusting myself off and fighting back much more effectively this year than in prior years. Of course, the big challenge for me is the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I am just grateful that I have gotten this far in one piece.

I am trying to do a better job using my tools to get me through the difficult times. I actually got a massage last week (that is HUGE for me!!), which helped work many of the knots out of my shoulders. Just the sheer act of setting aside time for myself – doing something that was just for me – was HUGE in helping me feel better.

I am gradually moving toward trying to have a more manageable schedule. This has been a year of unbalance for me. I have been working far too hard and reaping too few results (earned a lot less money this year despite putting in more hours). The internal intensity toward work seems to be calming down, thank goodness. I am doing better about taking a full hour lunch break and doing other things just for myself, such as going to see the new Twilight movie last weekend. Doing little kindnesses for myself seems to help with my emotional state.

A friend has invited my son and me to come over to her house for Thanksgiving once we are finished with our own. My family (just five of us – hub, child, and in-laws) will eat at 1:00, and the in-laws will be out the door within 70 minutes. (Yes, I have timed them.) That leaves all afternoon of my son and me feeling bored while hub naps, so the two of us are going to have a second Thanksgiving at a friend’s house.

Beyond that, we don’t really have plans for the weekend, and I am OK with that … which is weird for me. I usually freak out if I don’t have plans, but I am OK. I have some ideas of things my son and I can do together – decorate for Christmas, trim the tree, go to the zoo, etc. We’ll get through it.

I am sticking with my formula of only uplifting or non-melancholy music, no alcohol, working out at the gym, decent amount of sleep, and down time for me. All of this seems to be helping.

One more thing – I will be taking the rest of the week off for Thanksgiving. I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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Let me begin with a disclaimer – I believe that everyone has a right to decide how to treat his or her own body, and I am not pointing a finger at any individual in this blog entry. My focus in on a societal trend, not on an individual’s right to choose his or her body’s appearance.

Now, with that out of the way… Does anyone else find the societal trend of women completely shaving off their pubic hair disturbing? Let me start by explaining what I am talking about. Apparently, in the United States, there is a societal trend toward women shaving their genitals. The only reason I know this is from comments made in sitcoms and stand-up comedy.

I watched a stand-up routine by Whitney Cummings, who did a comical take on shaving one’s genitals. She said the only reason she knew that women were doing this was from watching porn. On the TV show “Mike & Molly,” when Molly said that a woman dyed her hair, Mike’s mother made a crude reference to the drapes not matching the carpet, to which Molly replied that women don’t really have carpet anymore. I think I heard a third reference to this somewhere else as well.

I can honestly say that my girlfriends and I NEVER discuss our “carpeting” with one another. I, frankly, do not care if they are shaving down there or not. What bothers me is that shaving the genitals is apparently a societal trend, at least trendy enough for mainstream comedy on TV. That, combined with virgin waxing, has me concerned about a societal trend that is making women’s naked bodies resemble little girls’ naked bodies, at least “down there.” I find any trend toward sexualizing a girl’s body disturbing.

Perhaps I am overreacting, which is why I am asking you – Is anyone else bothered by this trend? Does anyone else see the harm in telling men that bare genitals on a woman is an attractive and sexy look? No, I am not saying that a man is going to transform into a pedophile after having sex with an adult woman with bare genitals. My concern is that each mini-step toward equating a grown woman’s body (removing pubic hair, making skinny fashionable, etc.) makes having sexual relations with a girl seem a little less “different.” Am I overthinking this? Or is anyone else alarmed by this?

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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I had an interesting “vision” (for lack of a better word) last night. The first half is safe for all readers. I have included religious triggers for the second half of the blog entry.

As I have shared before, the holidays are tough for me from Halloween through New Year’s Day. I still don’t know why. I feel tense as bedtime approaches, have trouble staying asleep, wrestle with nightmares, and then feel exhausted the next day. Last night, I was praying about all of this, especially for relief from the pressure and emotional pain. Here is what I “saw”…

I was walking in the parking lot of my church toward the church building. I “zoomed out” so I could see myself from the outside, and I was this buff warrior woman, like an Amazon. (Trust me – Nobody would describe me physically like this!!) I had bulging, strong muscles, and I was tall. I was a powerful warrior.

Then, I looked in a full-length mirror and saw a skinny, scared little girl. She was wearing a thin, cotton nightdress holding a teddy bear in one hand, and she looked terrified. She was the complete opposite of the powerful warrior looking in the mirror.

That imagery was powerful for me. I have grown into a powerful warrior, but I still see myself as a scared little girl, which means that I ACT like a scared little girl rather than a powerful warrior when I feel threatened. I was able to see the irony of a huge, powerful warrior hiding in a corner when the “threat” could be easily overpowered. I am no longer the helpless little girl I see in the mirror. I need to see the warrior when I look in the mirror.

***** religious triggers *****

So, then I prayed about how to stop seeing myself as a helpless little girl and start seeing the truth. I immediately remembered what we have been learning in our Beth Moore Bible Study, Believing God:

  1. God is who He says He is.
  2. God can do what He says He can do.
  3. I am who God says I am.
  4. I can do all things through Christ.
  5. God’s word is alive and active in me

In our last lesson, we focused on #3, which is the hardest one for me – believing that I am who God says I am, not who my abusers said I am. Beth Moore recommended memorizing the following things that the Bible says about God’s children: they are forgiven, accepted, blessed, chosen, adopted, and redeemed, all because they are loved. It is going to take me a while to get there, but at least know where to focus my energy. That vision is a powerful way to do this.

Image credit: Amazon.com

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Creepy basement (c) HekatekrisI heard on the radio yesterday that more alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky have come forward. According to this article, the New York Times reported that about 10 more alleged victims have come forward (which is consistent with what I heard on the radio) but that the Pennsylvania State Police have not confirmed the number. The police are interviewing these new accusers.

For anyone who doesn’t understand why other people step forward once an abuser has been accused, the reason is that the victims are now more likely to be believed. Even when someone is sexually abused by a “nobody,” the victim risks not being believed. Nobody wants to believe that abuse happens, and the victim is the one who gets interrogated first – not only by the police but by family and friends of both the victim and the abuser.

When and where did it happen? How many times? What exactly did he do to you? Did you tell anyone when it happened? Why not? Why are you telling now? Are you sure it happened? You say this happened over a decade ago – Are you sure this really happened? I believe you believe it happened, but have you considered that you might have mental health issues? Are you sure you didn’t just dream this?

These are questions faced by any child abuse survivor who speaks out in adulthood, even when the abuser is not a celebrity. Imagine what it must be like for boys – many of whom were lured in through a charity reaching out to disadvantaged children – to stand up against a local hero. Heck, a “football god” to many! Who would have believed them?

Also, how many of these boys grew up believing that they were Sandusky’s only victims? How many believed there was something fundamentally “wrong” with them, explaining why they were abused? Once the silence has been shattered, many victims have the courage to step forward publicly and say, “It happened to me, too.”

These young men stepping forward are not doing it for five minutes of fame. They are finding the courage to stand up against the person who took away their innocence. As more victims come forward, it will be more difficult to deny the truth of what happened regardless of how powerful or famous the abuser is.

I hope that all of Sandusky’s victims are getting therapy to help them heal, and I hope that receiving public validation that the abuse DID happen helps them along their healing journeys.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Food chain (c) Lynda BernhardtI was plagued with weird dreams last night. I was visiting with friends at a mall in my hometown. I can only remember one friend (P – used to be my best friend in my 20’s, but I haven’t heard from her in years), but I think there was a second one there, possibly my sister. Anyhow, we were having a good time until they told me that two people were coming. The first was C, a high school friend who I would love to see, and the second was momster. I said I was sorry to have to miss out on seeing C, but there was no way in h@#$ I was sticking around for momster and fled.

I tried to blend into the crowd in a different store, but momster and the others found me there. Momster came up to me and wanted hug (like she did when I saw her last at my sister’s graduation). I gave her the weakest hug ever, and her end was just as weak. P and the others were saying, “See. I knew you would be OK seeing her.”

I ran out of the store and ran as fast as I could through the mall with P and the others trying to catch me. I leaned over and vomited. P and the others were still saying that I was OK and this was good for me, but I had to stop and vomit again even harder.

Then, it was Halloween (my ex-friend and I took our children trick-or-treating together on Halloween for eight years – this was our first Halloween not doing so), but I had to attend a make-up class that was being held in ex-friend’s classroom. (Ex-friend is a teacher.) I didn’t want to see her but knew there wouldn’t be a choice. She was polite to me (in real life, she pretends I don’t exist), but it was awkward. I borrowed a textbook from the speaker, but ex-friend took it from me.

Then, my son said he was hungry, and we went looking for food. He had bought himself a mansion filled with ponies, and I kept commenting how keeping ponies on carpet isn’t really the best idea.

Strange, strange dream. I had trouble falling back to sleep and am now pretty tired from being so restless all night.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Smoke day (c) Hekatekris

My kid (N) is having an issue at school. You can read the details here.

Update – the third party (K) still does not want to be N’s friend even after his mother explained the situation. N’s best friend (P – different “P” from the child N had an issue with) is also friends with K. K put P in the position of “choosing” between K and N at school yesterday, and P chose K. (In fairness to P, he did play with N at afterschool care.) N came home from school very upset. P’s mom and I are good friends, and she will talk with P tonight about not blowing off one friend for another. As for K, I have told N that nobody can make K be his friend, not even K’s mom.

Yes, it’s fifth grade drama!

That being said, I am having a difficult time keeping my own triggers out of the situation. I am trying to handle everything like a rational adult, but I am having to deal privately with my own triggers.

Trigger #1 – K just spent the night at our house the weekend before the drama hit. The boys were supposedly great friends, and now K wants nothing to do with N. This is triggering my own issues with the sudden ending of a nine-year friendship that is still somewhat raw.

Trigger #2 – K comes from a wealthy family, and I am leery of wealthy families because my most sadistic abusers were also wealthy. I have an aversion to anyone “in society” because I view those people as threats – it was “society” people who hurt me as a kid. I have been working very hard to assess people based on their character and not by their pocketbooks, but having the “rich kid” screw over my kid steps all over my childhood triggers.

Trigger #3 – My kid only lashed out at the other kid because he was hurt by a deep wound being opened. (In fairness to the other kid, he had no idea about my child’s emotional wound. Side note – The other kid has forgiven my child, and they are getting along fine now.) I suspect that one reason K is pushing N away is because he believes there is no excuse for saying something so mean, which tells me that K doesn’t know what it is like to have been deeply wounded. I know what it was like to be deeply wounded as a child, and it hurts to know that my child has been wounded as well (different cause, but a wound is a wound). The whole dynamic of someone who hasn’t been wounded judging someone who has stomps all over my triggers.

So, I am blogging about my crazy … um, I believe I was told to call them “confused” … emotions as I try to process fifth grade kid drama as an adult and not a triggered child.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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