For years I maintained a silence about the things in this post. Nearly everything that I write here, in this post and on this website, are things I haven't talked about in detail with many others. I just started using the term abuse to describe my childhood two years ago. My need to no longer be silent on this subject, or any others, has been difficult. It's not only difficult and affects me, but it affects those around me, my family, those I talk about, and people I've never met. Not everyone will understand or agree with me using a public forum to discuss such personal, intense, and painful memories. And so to all my readers I say this:
I created this blog as a need to break a silence that was forced upon me. I have spent nearly three decades feeling worthless, unlovable, and less than my peers around me. More than ever I need to heal. My eight year old daughter began self harming a year and a half ago. She has a lot of mental health needs that I feel I can't help her overcome if I haven't overcome my own demons. My other children all have needs that require I'm the best that I can be, and by keeping my silence I am slowly smothering myself to death.
These posts aren't easy to write, and they won't all be doom and gloom. But when I DO write something that makes you uncomfortable please understand that it was far more uncomfortable to write it and even harder to live it. I am rebelling against an imposed silence by those who made me feel as if I had no voice, or that I wasn't worth listening to. I'm hoping by breaking my silence I can prevent others from feeling forced to keep theirs. When your victims refuse to remain silent it makes it more difficult for you to continue victimizing them.
With that said, I am sorry my posts make you uncomfortable. Feel free to skip over this section (if it's not already there will be a separate place for these types of posts) and stick to the ones that don't make you uncomfortable. When or if you wish to read these things they will still be here.
If you are a subject in my posts (such as my mom, Jackie, or another family member) and are upset because you feel I'm misrepresenting you, or that I shouldn't post this publicly - If I have embarrassed you I am truly sorry. That is not my intention. I have reached out to every one of you, multiple times, to have a dialogue about these events. Every time that I have tried to discuss things with you I have been ignored or attacked and then ignored. After a few days you pop up to attack me publicly somewhere, but disappear the moment I try to talk to you about it. I have tried harder than most people would to work things out so we can have some sort of relationship. I have told you time and time again I am open and willing to discuss things with you as long as you can remain respectful to me while doing so, I won't have you yelling at me or misrepresenting ME anymore. The ball is in your court.
To everyone else, thank you for taking time to read this. I apologize for the jumping around, or tangents I may go on. I am doing this solely for myself, but part of that is turning my story into something positive. If I had to go through what I did at least I can use that to prevent others from having to do the same.
Not all blog posts are like this one, I merely wanted to get this one up before the walk!
I remember my earliest memory of having OCD. I didn't know what OCD was at the time, but I knew that I couldn't control my mind or my body. And I hated myself for it. I was only 5 and in kindergarten at Luke AFB, living in Glendale, Arizona. I don't remember when my symptoms began, or if there was a real beginning, but I remember that by the time I was 5 I hated touching things with my hands.
I don't think it was everything at first, just things that had strong or unpleasant odors. Playground equipment could be especially troubling as my peers often wanted to play on the swings, monkey bars, or any of the other strongly smelling metal playground equipment. Which, let's face it, in 1990 included ALL the things. I faced looking like a "weirdo" in front of the other students for not wanting to play with the metal equipment; or reacting to the smell on my hands with a number of activities that would paint me as the even bigger weirdo. The fear of discovery was far too great to risk it, and therefore I didn't risk the playground much at all.
I was also afraid of dying. Well, not dying specifically. What I was specifically afraid of was my heart would stop and I wouldn't know it. I was five, I thought you could live with a non pumping heart because I thought a heart was where love was stored. I didn't realize until many years later, too many to admit to, that a heart was in fact a four chamber scary looking thing that does not really inspire love and warm fuzzies, and not a butt on an ice cream cone (that's how I first tried to draw them).
I knew that I was a bad person, even at the age of five. I knew that I wasn't worthy of love, and I knew that if people knew about me. The real me. They would know I was not worth loving, and my heart would stop beating. So I checked my heart many many times a day, sometimes multiple times within just a few seconds.
Every day was a planned and strategic day. I had only two things on my mind - get through the day without being caught checking my heart rate and smelling my hands, and don't touch anything that is going to cause me to have to obsessively smell my hands.
At home I would spend hours making myself feel at ease, by equalizing things until they felt "just right". Brushed the wall with my right shoulder? I must now turn around and on the same exact spot, with the same exact force, with the same exact speed and as my shoulder brushed the wall if it didn't feel completely equal I had to continue going back and forth until everything felt as if, over the grand scheme of it all, it was equal. It didn't actually have to be equal, it's a feeling.
During school I would perform the same routine but on a smaller scale so it could go unnoticed. By smaller scale I mean I would drum my toes, or press my foot into the ground. Tapping my feet, or my fingers always triggered a need to immediately equalize it, same with rubbing a leg or a finger. I remember trying to sit so perfectly still on the floor in music class, where we were required to sit on the floor in a criss cross manner (Indian style for those of you who grew up when I did and haven't heard the better and more PC term "Criss Cross Applesauce"). Having my legs all tucked in together and my hands in my lap was mentally exhausting as I had to maintain equal pressure and movement on many different pressure points.
One thing I couldn't avoid was holding hands. Holding hands as a five year old girl is nearly a requirement. It's a show of love, loyalty, and friendship and refusal to hold hands is just plain rude. So I lied. I told other children I couldn't hold hands because I wasn't allowed to. In one case (and this is my earliest concrete OCD memory) I was walking home from school smelling my hands as usual when a classmate walked up behind me and asked why I kept doing that all the time. I was so scared because I hadn't been as sneaky as I thought I had been. On the fly I told him, "I have a poisonous turtle at home and if your hands smell like him it means he's poisoned you and you are going to die". Yeah, I was that kid. Regardless, by third grade it was well known that I wouldn't hold hands for a number of reasons, and I was snubbed by the "cool kids".
We moved to Maryland after that year, but by that point I had already perfected getting out of recess by volunteering in the prek and kindergarten rooms, and becoming a teachers aide. In Maryland it was no different, and I barely spent time on the playground at all. I also kept myself at a distance from most people, sabotaging or disappearing from friendships for fear that they'd find out the type of person I was.
***This has been incredibly difficult to write. I began this post on 3/23/14 and it's currently 8/25/14. I apologize for the change in tone, or in direction after this point, it's hard to pick back up after five months***
Once I learned what a heart was I was able to stop checking as frequently, but I still had this irrational fear that my body operated completely foreign of those around me. No one else I knew struggled similarily to control their body in such a restrictive and exhausting way.
Even as I type this my anxiety is increasing and I just caught myself rubbing my ring finger's nail without realizing it, of course rubbing both in a similar manner. Alan, interrupting a short compulsion, asked me to nurse and ended up knocking my hand in the process. As my finger slid from my ring fingers nail to my middle fingers nail by mistake, I have to know rub all my fingers nails, and fingers since that was touched too. This compulsion began five minutes ago and the anxiety is still there. Worse, as I type my fingers naturally rub and bump into each other which normally wouldn't bother me at all but my compulsion to rub and equalize them is still strong and prevalent at the moment. I'm reduced to taking a break to equalize, and then continuing on typing as if I have nail polish on my fingers and it's life or death to not accidentally mess it up.
I have often been asked how my family responded to my OCD. Did they notice? Did they also have it? How did my family growing up cope with my disorder, especially in a family with a lot of kids and a military (and often deployed) father? The easy and quick answer is - they didn't. The longer answer is more complicated and will probably be talked about over many many future posts.
I had a lot of good reasons to believe my heart would stop from lack of love. I didn't believe anyone loved me. I didn't think I was capable of being loved, and therefore I truly felt my heart would dry up at any time. I figured it only beat (and weakly at that) because my I could "trick" people into loving or liking me for a short period of time. I knew it wasn't genuine, I knew I didn't deserve any true unconditional love, so I kept my compulsions a secret.
My parents and siblings didn't try hard to disabuse me of this notion. There just isn't a delicate way to phrase this without sounding like a PBS after school special, but simply put - I grew up being emotionally and physically abused. I literally WAS a red headed step child, but it was my own biological mother that became my biggest tormentor. I became her favorite child to take her anger and frustrations out on, and she had plenty.
I look a lot like my mom, something that neither of us are too fond of, I'm sure. I look a lot different than her too, which is a huge relief for me. However, I still find it hard to look in the mirror and see the person who spent 18 years making sure I felt like garbage, looking back at me. That might be why I hoped so hard that all our kids would take after my husband.
My mothers story of her first marriage (to my biological father) was told to me in spurts, often while screaming about how horrible I was or to make me feel badly for asking questions about him. I never met my biological father. I was born in 1985, my older sister in 1981. We share both biological parents. I have a photo album of pics of my bio dad, dated to my sister, as late as 1988. Not a single one references me, and I was three years old by the time the last picture was sent, to my sister. I've contacted a few people from my bio dads side of the family, too scared to try too hard for a relationship with them, but my moms story was refuted by those I spoke to. They claimed they had heard a rumor about me existing but that she had denied it time and time again, so they thought I may have existed but was a product of my mom and step dad.
I found the photo album when I was only 6, after my neighbors told me that my dad wasn't my real dad. I was hurt, confused, and couldn't figure out why my "real" dad didn't want me but wanted my older sister. I felt like I had no one in the world who wanted me. My mom claimed I was a product of rape by my bio father, and that she ran away from him and never told him about me because supposedly we never saw him again. But I know that's a lie, as she would hide me when he had visitation with my sister. When I was two we moved to Germany to live with my moms second husband, the man who raised me and who I call my dad. I found love letters between the two of them, and journal entries of my moms about her secret relationship with him while married to my biological father. I think I was truly an accident, but not the way she describes. I don't want to go to much further into this story. It's still one that I'm trying to make sense of myself.
I merely relay it because I believe it explains some of my moms hatred towards me, and explains why I so strongly believed I was incapable of being loved.
We lived in Arizona, like I said earlier, until the fourth grade, at which time we moved to Maryland. In Arizona things were not great, but they were the best years of my childhood. My parents had a large community of friends, we lived on base during the first Gulf war and there was a lot of comraderie. I had best friends in my neighbors, and spend every day playing and exploring with them. Often times my sister and I would use our friends as buffers with our parents, knowing that they would maintain a certain demeanor when they were around. They were like our safety blanket.
Then we moved to Maryland. In Maryland we lived on a six housed lane, without any other streets super close by. There was one just down the road, but each street was so secluded that those six houses became our entire neighborhood. At first my dad was friends with our neighbor, as they worked together. But over the years they just stopped hanging out, and my parents became quite reclusive. Without friends to keep then occupied the abuse ramped up, a lot. My dad was still deployed a lot at this point. Desert Storm was over but he was in the AF EOD (Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal - basically the guys from the Hurtlocker, only way more realistic and not so dumb) and was needed a lot for overseas cleanup. Then he got switched to a robotics division, and traveled a lot for that. My mom became attached to her computer, spending hours a day on the internet, even before it was big. She was a part of early early chat groups, and we quickly learned that an occupied mom is a less violent one.
My OCD was in full swing at this point, and I spent many days cleaning our home from top to bottom. No one else in my family really cleaned, just assuming I'd do it. For holidays I got cleaner, and cleaner accessories. I didn't mind those gifts, I just hated that no one else cleaned and our house was GROSS. I stopped having friends over because I was so embarrassed. In high school I dated my friend, Graig, who would drive me home in his truck without airconditioning. It was so hot, as trucks really burn up in the sun without any AC, and he'd often ask if we could hang out inside but I was too embarrassed to let him in.
I'm sort of jumping all over here, and I apologize. That's why I had stopped working on this entry, but there is no way to discuss my OCD without discussing the abuse that I lived with as well. I am trying to refrain from going into it too much, as I know I'll discuss it more and more in other posts. This began as a way for me to make sense of the past 29 years of my life, because I'm struggling really bad to want to go many more years like this. So while these posts ARE public, they are written for myself. I hope one day my story will help others, and that I'll be able to heal completely, but at the end of the day I'm doing this to save MY life. This blog will be all over the place with tutorials, recipes, political and atheists musings, raising five children, living as a military spouse, living with multiple health problems, etc. If none of this interests you check out the other posts, or check back later for posts that may interest you :) the only reason I'm trying to get this post written up so quickly (coming back after 5 months off) is because I'm walking in the Out Of The Darkness walk in Omaha to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention. You can check out our donor page at http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=586198
Things were rough but manageable the first few years in Maryland. When I was 11 I began middle school and a new girl moved into the trailer behind the bar that was right down the road from me. She we got my bus stop and we immediately became friends. Her friendship was one in a long line of friends that I shouldn't have had, or kept for as long as I did. Her family was troubled, as was she, and she took it out on me as well. Because of our friendship, and because she ended up getting lice and passing it to my family, middle school became hell for me. I had hair down to my butt, and my mom - fearing lice - lopped it off to under my ears. For three years I was mercilessly teased in school, but especially on the bus ride to and from school. It became so bad that many days I purposely missed the bus, and tried to walk the 10 miles to school myself to avoid it. Each time getting picked up by the police or a friends parent, which quickly put a stop to trying that tactic too frequently.
Every time I got on the bus, or off, every single person - bus driver included - would move as far away from the aisle as possible and scream when I walked by. Like I was the most contagious, disgusting, thing. I tried to never let them see me affected by it, I would just walk out with my jaw set and try as hard as I could to not cry. This went on for three years, and every year would start out with the new people on the bus being kind and nice, trying to befriend me. Within a few days they would shun me as well.
None of my neighbors went to the same school, thankfully, so I never had to worry about it from my friends in the neighborhood. During school hours I tried to avoid people from my bus as much as possible. Trying to become invisible whenever I saw them. Public speaking is something I still fear, even though I love acting and spent a large part of my life on the stage, being myself in front of people is something that still causes massive anxiety. A few months ago a bunch of my friends went to the Science Cafe where they put on lectures and other things. We were at one about Autism, and having a son with aspergers I had a few questions for them. To ask the question you had to get up in front of the cafe with the microphone to ask. You had to walk all the way there. My friends urged me to go and ask my questions not realizing how close to tears the whole idea made me. But I did it, with their support, and no one made me feel like a leper for doing so. This happened 15 years since the last time I had a bus full of people scream and move away from me in mock fear. I never told my parents about the teasing, because what they did was far worse, and I didn't need to give them any ammo.
The summer before high school I was sexually assualted for the first time. It was my first sexual experience as well, and occurred only a few months after my first kiss. My parents reaction was one that still plays out, in detail, in my memory. I remember them sitting on the loveseat recliners, having been woken up by my sister after I came to her telling her what happened (I was staying the night at a neighbors house). My parents told me that it was my fault for being out when I shouldn't have been, wearing slutty clothing (I wore a spaghetti strap tank top and shorts), and that I had asked for it. They told me that I was never allowed to speak of it again, and when my neighbors (who daughter was also raped) told my parents their plans to get a private investigator to find the two perps, my parents refused, stating that they weren't going to ruin someone's life because I made bad decisions.
I was basically grounded, not even allowed to discuss that night with the friend in question. This led to a dissolution of our friendship and tens years of bad feelings as we both had anger at the other for things that had happened that night. We eventually talked about that night and realized how little we knew of the others situation. I wish I could say it ended well but it didn't. I'm not sure how she is but I know she has really struggled since then and the last I heard was not doing well.
By the time freshman year started I don't think I had an ounce of self worth left. The abuse at home was getting worse. My older sister was acting out a lot because of it, and I was left to protect and lie for her. She, on the other hand, was my protector. When things got really bad she would take the rap, and the beating that followed, to spare me from the same. She was a senior my freshman year, but shortly after school started she got into a huge fight with my mom, and after getting knocked around a bit left. Permanently. She emancipated herself and moved in with a friend, and then with her future husband. I felt betrayed, left behind, and forgotten. I was abandoned by the only person in the house, besides my baby sister who was only 5 at the time, who cared about me.
I began acting out in my own way at school. Many of my high school friends will remember me as someone who was energetic, happy go lucky all the time, bubbly, talkative, center of attention, etc. It was a mask I wore to keep people from knowing the real me. The me that even my own mother couldn't love. I annoyed a lot of people, but none more than myself. I made and lost friends, made enemies, had loads of acquaintances, and "serial" dated. I would get anxious and lose sleep anytime I dated someone for fear they would end up hating me, leaving me, etc. So after a few weeks I would break it off, even though I often regretted it and wish I hadn't. If I kept moving then I could feel loved without the fear that I would have to deal with the rejection and loss of love. I was always the one to break it off, and never the one to ask a guy out - fearing he'd only say yes to be nice and not actually like me.
When I was 16 I drank for the first time ever, getting totally drunk, and ruining the one relationship (prior to my husband) that I really wanted to last. For eight months I drank pretty much nonstop. I drank daily after school, mixing orange juice and vodka and nursing that all evening. I would bring sobe bottles full of straight vodka to school, getting drunk more than a few times. I was pretty much known for being a good kid so even though my teachers and even vice principals were aware I was drunk they didn't punish me for it. I only drank for 10 months before quitting cold turkey. My biological father was supposedly an alcoholic, I've seen my mom drunk and stupid more times than I ever wanted to, my sister is a struggling alcoholic, my great grandparents were raging alcoholics, and so are some of my aunts and uncles. When I drank back then I couldn't control my drinking. I would continue drinking as long as their was alcohol to drink, afraid that my buzz would wear off. I have an insanely high tolerance to alcohol, especially considering I'm not that large of a person. More than a few times I ended up with alcohol poisoning, and often I would drink hard liquor in quantities that were unheard of in my peers of teens. A few times I ended up blacking out at a party, only to later find out that I had engaged in sex while blacked out (no matter how many time someone tells me that's date rape, I can't bring myself to call it that). No matter what happened, at school I was harassed and teased for being a slut, a whore, someone you could get drunk and lay if you wanted to. Even my friends were cruel at times, and the guys involved were applauded or teased for having sex with such a slut. These were my only other sexual experiences besides the assault that occurred when I was 13. Fearing what would become of me if I continued drinking I decided to quit cold turkey. I drank for the first time in January of 2002, and by October 2002 I was swearing off anything alcohol related. For over ten years I didn't drink, I didn't even take cough syrup or anything with alcohol in it. I behaved as if I were a recovering alcoholic, and if it weren't for the inability to drink alcohol much now (my health is not a story I'm getting into right now, but it's a big part of all of this as well) I'm not sure if I could drink socially as I do now. Two years ago I tried a drink for the first time. I was able to drink one drink, and refuse any more. Truth be told, I really hate alcohol. It tastes horrible, and I wish I could drink occasionally to get drunk now but it's probably best that I can't.
Between my junior and senior years of school I really began to break down. I was trying to spend as much time as I could away from the house; in theater, out with friends, or just roaming the neighborhood. Being at home meant a constant barrage of, "you're so worthless" (my dad's favorite saying to me), or having things I would tell my mom in hopes of building a relationship tossed back into my face with disdain and spite. I remember once, during a particular good period, I told my mom (more out of hope that this good period would continue) that she was my best friend and I loved to hang out with her. Not a week later, during an arguement, she threw it back in my face with such disdain in her voice and taunted me with it. It was one of the more crushing comments, and it prevented me from ever saying anything like that again to her. I think it also reiterated my need to express to those that treat me right how grateful I am for it. I don't think they understand how their simply act of being kind to me means so much because it's foreign to me.
I'm not saying I didn't have good friends during this time period, but none that I confided in completely. Quite a few people knew my parents were abusive, and though CPS was called a few times nothing ever happened. Those that found out and weren't good friends would use it as ammo against me, so it ws just easier to keep it really hidden.
I started self harming, using a key to put friction burns on my skin. I could never really bring myself to slice open my skin and bleed, but I would burn myself pretty badly. One friend noticed once when I mindlessly pulled back my long sleeves in class, and I noticed her staring at them. Years later we talked about it, but at the time it was just more of the same - I wasn't doing well and my good friends know that much, just not the extent or the why.
Before senior year of school I broke down. I had a fight with my sister, Jackie, only four years younger than me and one of my biggest adversaries. In most abusive families there is generally one child who is not abused and goes on to become a purpetuator of the abuse. In this case, it was her, and when it came to me there wasn't a lot of love to be had there. During the arguement (I think it was about her wanting to watch a television show when I was watching tv, so she attacked me) I just lost it, I don't even remember it super clearly because at the time it felt like I was outside my body while this happened. I had simply had enough and I took most of the contents of our medicine cabinet and consumed them. Jackie walked in as I was doing this and told me, "good riddance" and went to go watch tv. Regardless of MY feelings towards another person, I could never watch someone in pain try to end their life and leave them with the last words of, "good riddance". Even in my foggiest of memories that moment stands out quite clear. It was the moment that solidified in my head, completely and irreversibly, that I just wasn't worth ANYTHING. Not even, in that moment where I was literally trying to end my life, was I worth even a nice comment, or no comment. Instead I was told basically that she was happy that I finally going through with it. If my friend Melissa hadn't come over, hearing something in my voice that wasn't right when I called to tell her I wouldn't need a ride to work the next day, that I survived. The ER told me that it wouldn't have killed me immiedatiely, instead the meds would burn a hole through my stomach lining, leaking bile into my abdomen and killing me slowly by poison. I had to drink two cups full of charcoal, and ended up throwing up everything because of it.
The hospital told my mom I needed to be admitted and when she refused they threatened to take me and make me a ward of the state. I was passed out most of the time, coming to every now and then, noticing my mom was there and not looking happy, hearing the doctors argue with her for not doing more when I came through the ER on the last day of junior year drunk and threatening to kill myself. I vaguely remember the ambulance transfer as my moms boyfriend (now husband, but at the time was supposly only a "friend") drove behind the ambulance. I felt betrayed a bit, not knowing this guy at all but knowing that his relationship with my mom wasn't strictly friendship, and here he was being a key member during one of the scariest times of my life. At the hospital the nursing staff had to remove and ban my mother from visiting after she went off on me screaming that I only did this to get back at her because my dad was deployed. She had no concern for the hurt I was feeling, or why I would get to that point. She could only find herself as a victim. My mom was diagnosed, through my team of doctors, with narcissistic personality disorder. Over the past 12 year of therapy I've learned just how much that disorder affects the children that are raised by people with it. I remained in the hospital for 10 days and cried when they had to release me because it was the only place I felt safe, and cared about. People actually cared how I felt, and knew that I was lying when I pretended to be happy. The state mandated I be put on anti depressants, and so I was forced to take them daily.
My mom blames Jackie and my strained relationship solely on me, claiming that I tormented my sister into her hatred for me. Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm not the torturing type. Sure, I fought with her like any normal sibling, but the difference from normal sibling rivalry was that it was always my fault, and the punishment was always severe. Regardless of what the situation was, somehow I was to blame. Case in point: Chris has hated my mom for as long as he has known her. He has to email her to tell her to be kind to me before surgery, had to beg her to let me live there for a month after my 18th birthday while he tried to find an apartment. He has tolerated her, and my need to have a relationship with her and my sister Jackie for years. We rarely went to visit because convincing him, and the weeks of anxiety and panic attacks leading up the visit made it very difficult to do so. When I was about 9 weeks pregnant with Anastasia we planned a trip to go visit, planning to stay two weeks. We lasted just over a week before we returned.
During the visit we began a game of monopoly with my beloved baby sister, Deanna. Deanna is the one who was only 5 when my older sister moved out, and was also the first child I helped to raise. I even potty trained her and co slept with her because my parents couldn't be bothered, but again, that's another story. Jackie asked to play, and although I was hesitant because interactions between the two of us only last a few minutes before they disintegrate into hostility, I agreed. I'm not saying everything bad between us is her fault either but she was raised watching me be treated like a second hand citizen, and was often encouraged to participate or was the catalyst for many interactions with my parents (my mom especially who dotes on her like she is the only child in the universe) that turned hostile. Prior to this visit I spoke with her about trying to get along, because I wanted a relationship with her that wasn't a negative one. Anyway - I don't remember what the fight was about but it had to do with something stupid in the game. Jackies reaction was to leap up, kick over the game board, and then to kick me, square in my pregnant stomach, as she left the room.
I was beyond furious. If she had made me miscarry Anastasia I'm not sure what my reaction would have been, but it would have been ugly. I can't even say it was mistake to kick me while pregnant because she did the exact same thing to my older sister in one of her pregnancies. She simply doesn't care enough the welfare of myself, my family, or my older sisters because she was raised not to.
Jackie went and cried to my mom that I was being horrible to her, which led to my mom letting into me for hours that night. Even after I told her that Jackie kicked me in my pregnant stomach my mom told me that had I been more sensitive to my treatment of her that it wouldn't happen.
About two years ago now I wrote my mom a letter outlining my hurt, anger, frustration, etc in the hopes that things would change. Out of my five children my mom has not seen a single one born. I had to pay to have her visit the two times she ever did. After Anastasia was born my mom didn't see any of my kids again until right before Alan's birth (that's skipping Charlie and David's birth entirely, and Charlie was nearly two and David four before she met them). She spent that entire visit speaking about how much she loved Jackie's daughter, and no time at all with my kids or trying to be THEIR grandma as well. David even confided in me that she was mean to him and he didn't like her. I told him that was fine but he had to be nice to her anyway, which he was. I sent her the letter and without reading it she told me that she would respond and that she would do anything to have a relationship with me. A Few hours later she blocked me on Facebook and that was the last of that. Every now and then she sends a gift to the house, but that's it. In my letter I asked her to acknowledge what happened, and to apologize in order to retain a relationship wht me and my family. My dad apologized to me when I was 19, and so today I still try to maintain a relationship with him, and to stregthen it if I can, but my mom refuses to admit she was anything but a perfect mother. The few times it's come up the blame was placed on me for being difficult. In the grand scheme of things I was a pretty well behaved child but to my mom I was the absolute worst thing to happen to her. I stumbled across a blog post of hers when I was 17 that spoke in length about how horrible of a daughter I was, and how if she were given the chance to go back and do it again she would abort me.
That post is probably one of my strongest sources of pain. I have nerve damage on my scalp and face from being dragged up and down the stairs and around the house constantly by a fistful of my hair, I have scars from the cuts I received during beatings, or being thrown into walls, or by whatever instrument was handy to hit me with. I remember my mom hitting me with a cup, open side down. She refused to believe she had done it open side down, and swore it was bottom down, but the result was the same, a "cup size hole" goose egg on the top of my head, making it impossible to brush or do a thing to my hair for nearly a week. I remember my dad, angry at being kept awake by Jackie and a friend of mine staying the night talking (we shared a room), I was yanked into the hallway, picked up by my throat and held against the wall with my feet not touching the floor, as I was yelled at that I better make them keep it down so they could sleep. I was punished for something I wasn't doing, I had been too afraid to participate and had begged them to be quieter. I remember trying to not cry as I slid back in bed with my friend, and the fear I felt as the two of them kept giggling for a while longer. I definitely have memories of the physical parts of the abuse, and it has shaped me as a person. However, the pain from those moments have faded, or changed. I no longer feel the pain of the grate on the wall cutting my face as I was slammed into it, and then yanked upwards against. I remember the way I felt afterwards as if I'm reading a book about it. I flinch, or cringe, but I do not still feel the grate on my face in the same intensity as I did then.
The words, the emotional abuse, though, is as clear in my mind as the day I first heard it, and the pain has increased and intensified from that moment, rather than decreased or changed.
I now have almost three decades of words, statements, actions directed towards me that were intended to harm me stored up in a memory bank in my brain. Every comment, every insult, every intended action to embarrass, hurt, or harm me have all stacked up on one another to create a skyscraper sized wall, each new comment just reinforcing the wall of self hatred and feelings of worthlessness. The wall causes me to befriend any and everyone, because I have the need to feel liked and because I can't imagine making anyone feel an ounce of the weight of the wall because of me. The wall also causes me to not trust anyone, because most of those friendships, where I'm trying desperately to not hurt anyone else, ends up with me being badly hurt and the wall growing stronger. I truly have a hard time trusting or believing anyone could genuinely love ME.
I avoid conflict like the plague. I remember once at a book club meeting at Paneras a fellow book club member ended up in a fight with one of the workers there, and I ended up shaking head to toe like a leaf for hours, much to my embarrassment, because I was so anxious. I cannot stand when people are angry and I'll do whatever I can to make them laugh or lighten up.
As you might imagine this causes problems in my marriage. My husband isn't a perfect man, no one is. But he is a good man, and a great father, and he puts up with far more than he should, in my opinion.
Chris and I began talking online when I was 15 on a "Wheel of Time" book forum, and it's spin off fantasy readers forum. At 17 I opened up to those on the board, the only people at the time I considered family even though they were AWFULLY mean to me at first (but really, I deserved it, and they really taught me a lot about standing up for myself. Three of people who were the harshest with me turned out to be my husband, and my friends Tim and Amanda - a married couple - who I think of as my true siblings so it worked out!). I wrote a post about my sexual assault at the age of thirteen and the issues with alcohol I was having (I would often post on the forum drunk). It was the first time I had ever opened up to anyone and shown them a glimpse of the "real" me. A few friends in my real life were on the forum and although they were initially supportive, our friendships fizzled out shortly after that.
Chris surprised me. He read this about me, and instead of teasing me or picking on me, which is what I had expected from him, he IMed me on aol instant messenger and we began talking. It was the most bizarre thing, and something I still talk to him about in amazement, but that very first IM conversation my wall came down, just for him. I couldn't pretend around him, and I had spent so long pretending I didn't even know the real me anymore, but he drew it out of me. And he accepted me and liked me afterwards. He IMed me for the first time right before Chirstmas of 2002. By March of 2003 we were talking for hours every day. We would chat through aol Instant Messanger, or yahoo video chat. Often simultaneously we would be talking to other forum friends on mIRC, posting on the forum, and writing each other notes to hold up to our video cameras while we chatted. When he would leave for work in the morning he would write me a note and place it in view of his video camera so I would be able to see it all day long. Our video cameras were constantly on, and we would sit at the computers waiting to see some sort of stirring in the room on the other end.
As our relationship grew, my parents tried harder and harder to make it impossible to talk to each other.
They began taking my modem and refusing me internet access. They placed a block on the phone so I couldn't dial out without including a code that I didn't know. Even the television was locked down with a code so I couldn't watch television (not having to do with Chris but they just really loved to control everything). I began only being able to talk to him at school during my teachers aide period, with the encouragement of my teacher because he could see how happy he made me.
In April 2003 he came up to meet me for the first time in person. He lived in South Carolina at the time, which is about 500 miles away from where I lived. (The song, "I'm gonna be" by The Proclaimers is our song for this reason). He got there on April 04, 2003. He was the first person I ever willingly had sex with, and I was his first sexual experience. Even though I wasn't technically a virgin when we met we both say we lost our virginities to each other. It's not strictly true, but it was the first willing/totally coherent/not forced sexual experience. I won't say it was awesome, because I had a panic attack in the middle of it. Yup, I ran out of the room afterwards crying. Bet Chris really loved that! But he loved me enough to not let it bother him. We've been married for over ten years now, and I'm still overcoming anxiety about sex. He is patient, and he is supportive, and I don't know if I give him enough credit at times. The very second day in person together, we were napping and he mumbled, "I know I want to spend the rest of my life with you, I love you so much. I'm going to propose to you."
I think some people would have freaked out, as things moved pretty quickly, I was only 17, I had just met him the day previously for the first time in person, but it didn't matter to me. He LOVED me. And I knew that I loved him, I knew that he affected me in a way no one else ever had (or ever has since). He is still the only person I can't hide from, and often times he can see things about me that I don't even notice. He is so in tune to me, that he knew I was pregnant each time before I did, or the test did! He can tell when I forget to take a certain medication and which kind it is, something I can't even tell. He knows when I'm upset and trying to hide it, he knows when I'm anxious and generally can pinpoint the reason why. He came into my life exactly when I needed him most. I was planning a third and final suicide attempt after I was supposed to graduate in June. I wasn't going to fail this one, I even did research on the best medications to take, how much, etc.
Had he not mumbled about proposing to me, I'm not sure I would have continued with the relationship. Remember fifty pages ago when I talked about serial dating? I figured Chris was going to leave me right after he got what he wanted (sex is what I had assumed, but I had hoped that I would be able to convince him to stay with me), and tell me a long distance relationship was too difficult. That comment made me realize that he was as serious as I was, and that I didn't need to sabotage this relationship out of fear that it was an elaborate ruse to make fun of me. The only time I have SEEN my husband cry was the day he left to return home after that first visit. He wasn't sure when he could see me again, and my family was making communication difficult. I was graduating in two months and at that point was planning to attend college in Chicago. It was a very unsure time. The second and last time I witnessed my husband crying (this time I only heard it through the phone) was the time my parents kicked me out after a horrible fight. Chris tried to get me a place to stay in South Carolina while he got an apartment set up for us, but it wasn't working and he was besides himself with worry. He eventually got on the phone and convinced my mom to let me live there an extra month while he got an apartment and saved up money for us. Since I wasn't quite 18 my mom had to let me stay there but told him I had one month past my 18 birthday and then I was on the street.
We both got jobs, saved up money, and in September 2003 he rented a 15 passenger can, took out the seats, and drove up to Maryland to pack me up and move me in with him permanently. I had spent the month of June with him in South Carlolina following my graduation (which he drove up to attend, making it our second in person visit). On June 22nd, 2003 he proposed to me with his beloved grandmas wedding ring. When we returned to Maryland in July, to drop me off back home (this was prior to the phone call and being kicked out. That event happened two weeks after he returned home) and announce our engagement my parents were less than pleased. My mom forbid me from wearing the ring while I lived there, from talking about it, from celebrating it, or from even acknowledging it. My older sister was getting married that month and my mom accused me of trying to steal her thunder.
I went from being with someone who loved me, to back at home where I was barely tolerated. When I left home my parents didn't even come out of their offices to spend time with me, to say bye, or to see me off. When I told my mom I would miss her she replied, "well you should have thought about that before you moved out then, huh?"
In December we found out we were pregnant. My older sister had discovered she was pregnant with her second child at the same time (they actually ended up being born on the same day, a mere 12 hours apart), and again I was forbidden from telling her, and I was accused of only getting pregnant to steal her thunder. My sister, on the other hand, was thrilled! My first pregnancy was not a fun one, and we had zero support from anywhere.
This post is already far longer than I ever intended, and there is still so much more I need to write to get it out for myself. I only see connections to the way I feel now about things when I really reflect back on the past, and by seeing those connections I'm able to diminish some of the scars left behind.
This post was intended to be a vague, but thorough timeline of my past, to use as a jumping off post for future, more expanded posts, about events in my past. It's a lot let thorough, and a lot longer than I intended, and I have so much left to tell.