Mama

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of rape/sexual assault and/or relationship/domestic violence, and/or those who have struggled with an eating disorder.

It’s been a long while since I’ve been on here, because I took a break as I’ve been trying to heal. Therapy has been so good for me. It’s not without setbacks, but in the long run I have hope for what the other side will look like…

Most recently we have been talking about my mother. How she was never really there for me. She never protected me or taught me things I needed to know to protect myself. She loved my ex boyfriend, the one who raped and abused me. She loved all of my boyfriends before him, too, and they were pretty much all jerks. She was too blinded by herself to see me, to realize that she was basically watching her daughter die right in front of her. She did nothing.

She didn’t protect me from my dad when he was abusive to me (though he’s long-since healed).

She didn’t wonder where I was when my uncle molested me, and if she suspected abuse after taking me to the doctor, she never did anything about it. And that all set the stage for how I should react to unwanted sexual contact. I never learned that what happened to me wasn’t okay, and just eventually blocked it out because my young mind couldn’t handle the trauma. And that became a cycle with me.

When I was bullied in elementary school and begging to go to another school, she didn’t have my back. All of the other schools were more expensive, and they would not be putting me in public school, thank you very much. But we had the money, I know we did. I just wasn’t worth it to them, and she – who should have seen all of it – did nothing to help me. I graduated from that very same prep school with the people who tormented me through Jr High, and then made up rumors about me or ignored me in High School.

The sexual eduction she gave me was that you don’t do it before you’re married, or it makes you a bad person. And after you’re married, it’s not that great, just necessary to make your husband happy.

My boyfriend abused me. Told me what to wear, who to talk to or not to talk to, degraded me, made me doubt and second-guess myself, shook me screaming in my face, threw me down and stood over me…broke my spirit entirely. And I let him, because I learned from her that it was okay. And she never noticed that I was not the same daughter I was before I met him.
And then he started raping me. And I didn’t know that wasn’t ok, because sex isn’t great, right? It’s all about the men. And I couldn’t talk to her about it. But she also didn’t ever question it. I feel like if she had paid attention or asked questions or tried to make herself someone I could talk to instead of someone I was afraid of sharing with, maybe she would have realized what was going on? But she wasn’t there. She never questioned long sleeves in the summer, or how I could “fall asleep watching a movie” so often, or how I didn’t want ANYONE to touch me EVER. No hugs or anything. I couldn’t stand it. I still can’t. It makes me feel trapped.

She never questioned when my eating habits became dangerous, but instead praised my dieting efforts. For as long as I could remember, my mother dieted. She has never not been on a diet. I’m sure she thought I was a cow and needed it. We used to diet together. So when something started working for me, she paid no attention to the fact that it was because I wasn’t really eating anything, or because I was “eliminating” what I did eat. Didn’t question the emotional trauma behind it (because it certainly didn’t start out as a diet plan). And that’s something you never get over, either. It’s like being an alcoholic. You will always have an eating disorder. More on that another day…

She never asked how my boyfriend treated me when she wasn’t around. She just thought he was fantastic. And he raped me. Repeatedly. Degraded me. Even in public places. Abused me. He damaged me so intimately that it creates a struggle at least 50% of the time for me to be healthily intimate with my husband – whether that be holding hands, emotionally sharing, or having sex. I have to work at it because sometimes I am so scared by it or just can’t stand the touch to even hold hands.

And I didn’t have a mother to talk to about these things. I feared sharing with her because she was so disconnected from me, and just a reporter to my dad. My therapist says I have a birth mother, but not a mom. Though she was in the house, she wasn’t ever there for me. Where was she?

If you or someone you know has been the victim of rape/sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, and/or relationship/domestic violence, I would encourage them to seek help.

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.thehotline.org

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, I encourage them to also seek help. It is a lonely, secretive road, making it much more dangerous of a condition.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-help-support

My Nightmare in Halloween

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of rape/sexual assault and/or relationship/domestic violence.

When I was sixteen, I met a guy at a Halloween Party for the Junior Class. He was nice. Charming. Funny.
He made me feel like the most important person in the room. He wasn’t even in our class, but he was there. He made sure I didn’t leave without giving him my phone number.
We began talking on the phone and texting. We didn’t even hang out – not yet. It was almost six weeks after we met that we first spent time together. He was polite. He was nice to my friend. He held my hand. It was then that I found out he was much older than me – though at the time I had no idea just how much older.
A few weeks later I was out of school for Christmas break, and he came to my parents’ house. He brought me a mixed CD and we played board games. When he left, my parents asked how old he was. “19 – he’ll be 20 in February.” This seems ridiculously too old for a 16-year-old girl, no? But probably in order to keep me honest, they didn’t forbid me seeing him. Almost a year later, I would find out that he was actually three years older than he said.
We continued seeing each other like this. We celebrated New Years a day late, because he claimed he had to be out of town over New Years. We sat on the living room floor and ate Chinese, later baking M&M’s cookies one afternoon in February, our Valentine’s “date” and in celebration of his birthday.
In March, he went to my Junior Prom. And just 5 weeks later, he turned my world upside down.
On May 2, 2005, my boyfriend raped me. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t realize what was happening. I blacked out to protect myself from the trauma of what he was doing. Later I reasoned that I was responsible for what had happened, and for that reason I couldn’t tell ANYBODY. So I didn’t. And since in my mind I was a guilty party…I absolved him of his crime. I kept seeing him.
It didn’t take long for him to escalate. Once he knew he could do that to me and I didn’t say anything, he knew he had me. Our relationship became volatile as his violence grew. He could be so ruthless. I began disassociating during his abuse or sexual violence. I began disassociating during the times that I conceded to sleep with him. This went on for two years, and though I was old enough to remember everything about my life at that point, I can count on my hands the memories I have from then. And only half of them aren’t terrifying or sickening. None of them are “good”.
I count myself lucky to still be alive. If I had stayed with him any longer, I know I wouldn’t be here to write this – either he would have snapped and killed me, or I would have met my own demise. At the end, I was borderline alcoholic and abusing prescription drugs. I had developed my eating disorder. I was cutting myself. I was having suicidal thoughts. I just wanted all of it to stop.
When he told me one night that we were over, something in me knew I had to make it permanent this time. I saved myself. I had had enough and realized this was my way out.
He stalked me for months when he found out I had moved on. It was terrifying. We didn’t hear from him for a while, but then the last straw was when he contacted me in the hospital after I had my first son, and congratulated me on my family. My husband threatened him with violence and police. I never heard from him again, although I have seen him around once in a while.

Every year around this time I am reminded of when we met. Of the worst decision of my life – to go talk to this guy sitting alone and observing.
It fills me with pain to recount what I did and what I could have done to save myself. I feel anger and sadness for all that happened, for the lies he told me, for the love he faked, the weakness I felt because of him. For the lower value I put on myself because of him. For the fear and pain and inability to trust myself – all that he caused to break within me.
He destroyed the girl I was. Trying to shape me into what he wanted me to be, and it was never good enough. I can tell you I am not who I would have become had I not met him. And for that, I thank him. I am stronger, smarter, I value more than I would have, I love more than I would have, I see more than I would have.
I am a fucking force to be reckoned with. I no longer fear him. I don’t even loathe him. I have found indifference.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of rape/sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, and/or relationship/domestic violence, I would encourage them to seek help.

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.thehotline.org

Virginity

I had written this post weeks ago. Somehow I deleted it. It was devastating, and discouraging. I had to take some time to recover…

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of rape/sexual assault and/or relationship/domestic violence.

Virginity

This is a very difficult topic for me. One of the hardest things to think about. I’ve never been able to discuss it.
But I want to know – Where is my virginity?
I’ve been told by so many people that your virginity is something you give – not something that can be taken, although the act was incredibly…invasive. And I believe that – I fully do. My struggle, though, is that it was my boyfriend who raped me. And in everything my parents’ religion taught me, I put myself in the situation. I “knew” that being alone with a boy would result in sin. Par la par I “asked” for it.
So in my twisted view, we had made a mistake. And I stayed with him. And he became violent. But I stayed with him, still. Because I loved him. Because he was now part of me. And in this time, in this relationship…there were times that I wanted him. That I wanted to be with him. It makes me sick to tell you these words. To know that they’re true. So in that sense…did I also give my virginity to the man who raped me?

Or if not him, then who? The guy I drunkenly but very intentionally had a one night stand with, in an effort to get past my sensibilities that I should only ever be with one person? I don’t even remember his name…

And I don’t know why I care so much – I can’t explain it. Isn’t it a societal thing that makes it so important to me? If it’s no longer religious, isn’t it just because everyone else thinks it’s important? Or waits for someone “special”? But isn’t that just what we’re told? I don’t even know if I make sense anymore. I just wish I knew…sometimes I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore.
I don’t even know what to think. I just know that even if it wasn’t societally important…it makes me hurt to think that it’s possible I gave it to that monster.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of rape/sexual assault or sexual abuse, I would encourage them to seek help.

http://www.rainn.org

Unused

She was bulletproof, unbreakable.
Any hand that struck her would shatter into a thousand tiny pieces before it would leave a mark on her.
Her pale skin glowed, a radiance like none had ever seen.

Invincible and fearless, she moved through life like a breeze through the trees, stopping only to sweep people up into her intoxicating presence.

Her joy shone like the sun on the ocean, sparkling like diamonds and warming all who saw her.

She had never been hurt. Never left behind. Never made to question her spirit. Never abused.
She was bulletproof, unbreakable, unused.

Religious Failure

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of rape/sexual assault and/or relationship/domestic violence.

We are hearing about it more and more lately. Purity Culture.

Tonight as I settled in to bed, I came across a post on my facebook feed about Purity Culture, and unable to turn away I click on the link, where a woman writes this article on her experience with Purity Culture. And after I read this, I am sitting here bawling.

I have my own experiences with Purity Culture, which I know I have touched on before, but I’m going to do it again. Some time in my youth, I took the pledge to remain pure until marriage. Just as the woman in this article writes, it was made abundantly clear that my value as a young Christian woman would be determined by my ability to remain pure until my wedding night.

The sexual education I received was that good Christian girls do not have sex until they are married, and even when they are married it is not enjoyable (in fact, it’s uncomfortable and strange), but a wife’s duty to please her husband. So when it came time for all of us girls in youth group to attend a weekend event centering on our purity, how could I not take the pledge with everyone else? My parents were so proud. They even bought me this little purity ring – almost like a wedding band. They let me pick it out – a thin band with a small diamond chip embedded in it – and I wore it with great pride as the visual reminder to everyone that I was saving myself for marriage.

My first “boyfriend” was wonderful, respected the boundaries I set based on guidelines I was given by the church – he never even tried to kiss me. He would hold my hand, we shared secrets, we were probably too emotionally invested for teenagers, but never once did we stray anywhere near a danger zone.

My second boyfriend was a rebel and kind of a jerk. He was my first kiss at 16, making out with me in the bed of a pickup truck under the stars, with that first kiss he was already trying to push me to the brink. I felt passion and mystery for the first time in my life. I felt desire. It felt amazing and terrifying. I knew wanted him, but I wasn’t supposed to. It wasn’t right. Every time we were together it was like this, but I held my ground. Eventually he moved on from me. Maybe he got bored of waiting, or in his devil-may-care inability to be in a monogamous “relationship” found a girl who would put out and forgot about me. That seems more likely.

My third boyfriend…at the onset of our dating adventure, I was very clear – again laying out those boundaries based on church guidelines. Every chance he got, he pushed them to see how far he could get – how much he could get away with. Always apologizing it away “I’m sorry, you’re so beautiful that sometimes I can’t help myself.” So charming, and of course everything I ever was taught by church – it is up to me to keep both of us pure, after all. After four months of dating, my third boyfriend brought me to his mother’s house when he knew we would be alone. Maybe he was hoping he would wear down my boundaries and we would have sex. Maybe he had his backup plan all along. After making out and losing small battles with my boundaries for half an hour, my brain took over and I told him “We need to stop.” My boyfriend. My sweet, Christian, understanding boyfriend…threw all his weight against me, and raped me.

Everything I was ever taught in purity culture was against me that day – don’t be alone with a boy, or you will sin. It is up to me to keep us both pure, because men can’t help themselves. Sex is dirty and unredeemable. Even when you’re married, it’s just uncomfortable and a necessary evil.

It was my fault. It was uncomfortable and awkward because it was my first time and also that’s just how it is. I can’t ever tell anyone. I have to make this relationship work because no one else will ever want me, now.

That “boyfriend” was 23. He knew exactly what he was doing, he may not have planned every single step of our relationship or every single action of that day, but his intention was always to groom me into a position to have sex with a teenage girl. And he succeeded. Afterwards, he continued to rape and abuse me for two years – well into my age of consent. But in my broken view of sex and love, that’s just how sex and relationships were.

When our son was 5 months old, my husband and I got married. It was clear to everyone then that I didn’t wait, and at the time I was too torn apart to care. I knew people were talking about me, and I could not give a shit about them.
However, I still cared about me. I still felt dirty and used up, like I failed my husband – in spite of the fact that we had a son together before getting married. It was illogical, at best, but it was real. I felt like a failure as a wife because I wasn’t a precious virgin for him. Although I never cared about his many past encounters, I knew somewhere some part of him must resent the fact that I was not pure for him.
I was a religious failure, unfixable. I didn’t deserve a wonderful husband. I lost so much faith. I lost hope.

6 years later, I finally believe that, not only does it not matter to him, it doesn’t even matter to me. My only regret now is honestly this – if my path was always to meet that third boyfriend, that I couldn’t have waited for my husband…I’ll never understand it (I can’t spend the rest of my life asking “why” or “what if”). But if I had to meet him anyway, and be subject to him for over two years. Then I guess I’ll kind of always regret not just losing it to that second boyfriend. At least then my first experience could maybe have somewhat pleasant memories (even if maybe it would have ended in heartbreak). At least then I would know for sure what happened to my virginity – no technicalities. No uncomfortable questions.
Where is my virginity? I want so badly to address this question next time. It is painfully hard for me – while my Purity Culture bullshit no longer matters, my virginity still does.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of rape/sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, and/or relationship/domestic violence, I would encourage them to seek help.

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.thehotline.org

Irrational Thoughts

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of rape/sexual assault and/or relationship/domestic violence.

Being a survivor of domestic violence, trust in relationships is especially difficult for me. So is being vulnerable in any way, showing weakness, speaking my mind…
Recently I blogged about feelings and how they’re basically a new thing for me. Yesterday for the first time I explained to my husband the feelings and thoughts behind why I got mad. It was by far one of the most difficult things I’ve done. Complete vulnerability and weakness to tell him about my struggle to trust him because of my past.
Something just stupid happened yesterday morning, I forgot something at home and he had told me he would be up at 8. So I called him to ask him to bring it to me in the next couple of hours, but he didn’t answer. Again, and again.
And I started having these irrational thoughts about it. Is he really awake and ignoring me so that he’ll have an excuse not to help me? Is he taking my fear of looking bad, and allowing that to happen to “teach me a lesson”? Is he feeling fulfilled knowing how dependent I am on him in this moment, and being withholding to show me how much I need him? Is it that he got some last night, and therefore doesn’t have to care about me anymore? All of these thoughts direct side effects of the abuse and sexual assault my ex put me through – he was always distant and cold after he had sexually assaulted me, treating me like a whore as if there was something deviant about me that made him do it, like he couldn’t even look at me for days after because he was ashamed of me…the exact opposite of the “honeymoon” I got when he physically abused me. The kindness and gentleness that he would show me for days after.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s issues, of course, I wound down and was able to rationalize and think normally. He was still asleep, he had stayed up later than he expected to and therefore slept later. I didn’t know that (and obviously he was asleep and unable to communicate that to me), so my mind went crazy with all of these abusive, manipulative things he could have been doing.
It’s the first place I go. Sometimes I feel so completely broken. Unfixable. Like I’m going to have to wonder these horrible things about my husband for the rest of my life, because I’m so emotionally damaged. And besides fraying at my nerves, sharing these feelings basically says to him “I always think you’re trying to hurt me.”
I will never forgive my ex for a lot of things, but I will hate him for this.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of rape/sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, and/or relationship/domestic violence, I would encourage them to seek help.

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.thehotline.org

Feelings

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of rape/sexual assault and/or relationship/domestic violence.

Feelings
So I have to have feelings now. Not just snap reactions to things that bother me, but I have to legitimately process shit and come to a conclusion about how it really makes me feel that I am covering up by acting irrationally angry. And it sucks. Because I would rather just flip out, calm down, and leave the feelings wherever they’ve been hiding.

My entire life I haven’t had feelings. I haven’t expressed interpersonal needs. I haven’t “wanted” unless I was a little kid writing my letter to Santa. On the occasion that I did express a want, it was rebuffed. I knew better than to express feelings or needs. It hurt too much when those were blown off or devalued or disciplined.

So I never really learned how to talk about how I felt or what I needed in relationships. I never learned the take part of give-and-take. Where I could ask for things like what movie I wanted to see. Little things – they seem so inconsequential. But in the bigger picture, one person can’t always be giving. Even if the other doesn’t realize it’s a cover.

The one time I expressed needs, feelings, wants with my ex…well that was when I told him I wanted to wait for marriage. That I felt it was important to me. That I needed him to respect that. And his direct response was to devalue all of what I asked, disrespect my feelings, my body, all of me. And of course with his decision to do that, and everything else he did, I subconsciously learned that there was no point to having feelings or things that were important to me. Nobody was listening, nobody cared. I was nothing and certainly didn’t deserve even these thoughts.
So I gave and gave and gave, taking only pain when I didn’t have enough to give. And I carried that with me up to now – that training to never need. Never want. Never feel.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of rape/sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, and/or relationship/domestic violence, I would encourage them to seek help.

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.thehotline.org

Daddy’s Little Girl

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of rape/sexual assault.

Daddy’s Little Girl
I often find myself hurting when I see great father-daughter relationships. Most often these come about in a movie-like setting, some entertainment production or other. A lot of the time there is some fundamental lack of communication between father and daughter, not for lack of trying. But the ending is always the same. The father pulls his daughter into a tight embrace, and in that one hug you can read everything he means. His love is unconditional. She is precious and valuable to him. And the movie ends with all right in the world.

And I hate those movies, because when this happens all I am able to think is that I will never be good enough for my father, because I feel like he will always think of me as some kind of dirty whore. I wasn’t a good girl, I didn’t wait for marriage like I was supposed to. Well I fucking tried, and what did that get me? And then what did it matter?
My family doesn’t know what really happened to me. At first it seemed inconsequential, like – why bother them with this personal stuff from ages ago? Plus there’s the fact that it’s so personal, and I want to be left alone about it but they can be relentless.
But there’s also a side of me that wants to be able to tell my dad, you know, “here’s what I really wanted for my life, but this is what happened, so here’s how I derailed.” But I don’t want to hurt him. And more than anything I don’t want him to say anything that blames me. I just now stopped blaming myself.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of rape/sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, I would encourage them to seek help.

http://www.rainn.org

Punished for Being Punished

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of relationship/domestic violence.

My ex never did hit my face – he never abused me in any way that I couldn’t hide it. Not for my own sake of course, but he was a smart man. He knew bruises make people instantaneously suspicious these days. Plus he couldn’t have his girlfriend walking around with a busted up face. Bruises would have clashed with the outfits he picked out for me.
Instead he usually relied on one hard sweep to my body. Enough to bring me to my knees and give me the message while he stood over me, often grabbing me by the hair to make me look into his face as he viciously spewed his venomous hate towards me. If that wasn’t enough, he’d drop to a knee and shove me into the wall or pin me to the floor, grabbing me by the chin to make me listen, hissing in my face. His eyes searching mine for the fear, silently asking me if his terms were understood.
I remember one occasion so vividly, I knocked over his CD tower as he threw me down to the floor. He dropped instantly to attack me for upsetting his perfectly arranged collection – alphabetized by genre. As if I could control my trajectory. Punished for being punished.
Nobody ever knew who he was behind closed doors. Or if anybody ever suspected, nobody ever questioned it. Even after I showed up crying on the doorstep of someone trusted who should have been able to handle the situation. Partly my fault, I suppose, for being too afraid to talk about what was happening. Too afraid of the consequences of opening my mouth – I was both scared of his retaliation, and of losing him for good. The sick, mind-fucked dilemma so many of us silently bear as we fight ourselves for both safety and “love”.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of relationship/domestic violence, I would encourage them to seek help.

http://www.thehotline.org

The Best High

Words in this blog may be triggering, especially for those who have a history of eating disorder.

So even though I feel worlds better. And even though I can say I don’t feel out of my own control…..I am still constantly struggling with food.

Some jerk brought donuts in to work yesterday (ok, whoever brought donuts is probably actually very nice), and I just basically went “Challenge accepted.”
And instead of looking at it as a nice gesture and a treat, I took it as a way to assert my amazing self control. I didn’t eat a freaking donut (even though I also didn’t eat breakfast or lunch and was practically drooling over them at one point), and it felt empowering.
I sat there sipping my diet coke and feeling like I made this major accomplishment, when really I know this would actually be considered a failure of a day. Not because I didn’t eat a donut, but because I didn’t eat at all through sheer force of will. And I felt good about it.
And a giant part of me still does.
I just don’t understand how I can put my past trauma in its box, I can disengage my relationship with myself from it. But I can’t put my issues with food and body image on a shelf and just be healthy.
And I justify it by saying I *mostly* keep it in check. As in, I usually at least eat dinner.
When really I know every time that scale is lower, I get high.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, I encourage them to seek help. It is a lonely, secretive road, making it much more dangerous of a condition.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-help-support