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Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

Fool me once…

Bless my child’s heart.  Keep a lookout for his safety.  Let him have enough food and shelter in a storm.  But not at my house.  Never again at my house.

There is such a mixed feeling involved in relationships that are abusive.  More than that, when the abuser is your own child, there is guilt, shame, responsibility, anger, helplessness, even this weird sense of sympathy and a need to justify why your child had to do what they did – make it understandable or something.

My son has been homeless since last Christmas, when I had to have him leave my home for stealing from me.  He’s been back twice when he needed a place to sleep.  The first time, we had had 8 inches of rain and I did feel so bad for him.  It’s so hard for a mother.  I never know where he is, and unless he posts on Facebook, I don’t even know if he is okay.  So when he called, after almost three months, I was so grateful that I let him in.  Evidently, so he could case the joint.

I should have known better.  My son does not have a good track record in my world.  He has stolen from me for the past five years.  We go on and off; he appears to hit bottom, comes to me for help, starts to make progress toward where he wants to be, then something happens and it all falls apart within days.  And in those days, my stuff goes missing. 

It makes me feel like a callous, unfeeling mother that I cannot allow him in my home ever again.  Not, at least, without tangible changes in his world.  But I am so tired of feeling victimized.  I think I’ve learned finally, at last, that where he is right now is not in a place where he can even consider others.  He is so desperate to fill  his own needs.  (Okay, this is me trying to justify where he is.)  The truth of the matter is that in this moment, the child I raised and tried to instill a deeper truth and sense of purpose in, that I love with my whole heart, is a thief.  And he doesn’t care who he steals from.  And I have to somehow let him go, with love and compassion, but even minimal support must end.

How will I get through this?  It’s not so much the gone stuff, it’s the deliberate saying ‘no’ to his infrequent requests for help.  It’s having all this love that spills out just for him that cannot be manifested in the normal ways we show people we love them.  It’s the pain of crying every night that your child is so lost and you are so helpless.  I can’t even offer him shelter in a storm. 

And it’s always that unanswerable question – why?

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I have spent the last two days cleaning.  Scrubbing shit out of hardwood floors – literally shit.  Scrubbing walls that had something I don’t want to know on them.  Vomiting as I cleaned.  And I have spent the last two days trying so hard to convince myself that this was not my fault.  That I have not caused it.  If you’ve ever been raped, if you’ve ever had a home invasion, you know the feeling.  Of no safety, of crawling out of your skin, of utter devastation, of thinking that if only I had been more aware, or paid better attention, then this would not have happened.  But the truth is, there was no way to foretell or to know to prevent what happened.

What happened?  Well, you know I’m a story teller, so let me tell you my story.  Please keep compassion in your heart for everyone involved – right now my anger and hurt may not allow me to write from the perspective that would reflect the compassionate womon I strive to be.

If you’ve read my blog all along, you know that last year I went away and left my son in charge of my home for a week, during which a large, scary, home destruction party took place.  You can read the entry, called It Feels Like Rape.  Anyway, this year I knew I would be away for a couple of months and I really wanted to get someone I could trust to come in and look after my cats, keep my home, and mow the lawn.  I found someone who was a friend of a couple of people that I really trust and respect and who was looking to move to the area.  And she was a Festie! What a win/win!  She and her partner could stay here for free and look for permanent housing, and I could go work for Fest with a sense of peace.

Two days ago, I came home.  The lawn had never been mowed.  The grass was a foot and a half high.  My house looked abandoned.  Have you ever watched with morbid fascination the videos of animal control officers going into “the cat lady’s” house?  Seen the shit and urine everywhere?  The open cans of cat food that have been there for weeks, in the can, on plates, covering the floor?   The piles of dirty dishes and laundry in every room?  The tub filled with water and bad, bad unidentifiable things floating in it? The mold?  The slime on the walls?   The ripped down curtains?  Things broken and not cleaned up?  And then the interview with the cat lady who doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about?  Yeah, that is my house.  Be grateful you can’t smell it, too.

I can’t tell you what happened to the womyn who stayed in my home and destroyed it.  I can tell you that I found many prescriptions for pain and anxiety.  I suspect that they both have issues that bloomed in each other’s presence, and someday I will truly be able to believe that they were doing the best that they could do.

Right now,  I’m feeling… I don’t know what.  On the verge of tears, hard core anger, total helplessness,but mostly numb.  I have a couple of really good friends who keep reminding me that small and compartmentalized is best. 

I can’t really describe what has happened in my house – but it, and I have been violated.  I smudge often.  I am having to spend money I don’t have.  Small, but important things have been broken or sullied.  I slept in my car the first night, because there was no safe space for me.  And the lies.  The lies.  The lies.  I have tremendous fear that there will be more that I have yet to uncover.  I want to read my mail, but the cats have shit and peed all over it.  I want to clean, but when I opened the drawer to get a rag, there was dried cat vomit and piss all over the rags.  Every place I turn, every cupboard I open, any place my eyes can see, I cannot find safety.  Today I will clean the shower – because I need to take one.  But I cannot find my towels and really, it doesn’t matter because I couldn’t let them touch my body anyway.

I’ve cancelled my credit cards.  I’ve notified my bank. 

And as to the cat ladies?  Well, they really don’t seem to think anything is all that wrong.  They did take my cats to the vet (for fleas?!?)  And I am actually grateful, because what I thought was old age in my oldest guy  turned out to be something treatable.  They fed them expensive veterinary food, treated the fleas, bought lots of cat toys with feathers and catnip.  They even listed me as a reference while apartment hunting.  Really?  What they have never done is apologized for the horror that was my home.  Or even acknowledged that they had done something so out of bounds that it could send them to jail.  Or offered to help clean.  Or offered compensation for the things that I will need to have repaired or replaced.  And now they want to let me know that the cats are due back at the vets for follow up treatment for ear mites and fleas.  Really?

So, I know I am notoriously hard to buy for, and my birthday is coming up.  Here’s what I want:  chopsticks (don’t ask what happened to the old ones), sage for smudging, your good thoughts, and that feeling of safety and security to come back.

Soon, really soon, I hope, I’ll be able to write about what an amazing, life changing experience I had at Fest, and about the beautiful loving womyn who are a part of my life because of it.

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Okay, what I’m about to write seems like it’s not going to be so popular, given what my friends are all posting on FB.  Or maybe I just haven’t reached a high enough level of non-judgement yet.  Michael Jackson is dead.  And the death of a person is a sad thing.  Yes, he was very talented and his music was the soundtrack of my generation.

But, the man was a pedophile.  He was cruel to animals and the things he has done to his children – they may never recover from.  I vowed a long time ago that no money of mine would be spent supporting this man.  I did not want to financially support someone who seemed to live above the law.  Many of my friends, when downloading his music, would give excuses – “But it’s just such a good song!”   “He did this one BEFORE he molested that kid.”  “It’s only a dime to download.” 

I’ve never understood the lack of moral outrage at what this man got away with.  The excuses for his behavior – from an abusive father – to childhood stardom made him lose touch with reality, are just that – excuses.  Pedophiles are mentally ill.  Michael Jackson was the poster boy for mental illness, but he should have also been held accountable.

As an abuse survivor whose molester was a high up muckety-muck in his company, I know the helpless outrage of others working to protect his reputation instead of saving me.  How must Jackson’s victims feel? 

The man died.  It’s a sad thing.  But I won’t use his passing to celebrate his life.  For me, his music is the soundtrack of abuse and I can never celebrate the man who harmed so many.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about personal boundaries lately.  How to keep them safe, when to stretch them, how to be graceful about them (putting them out there and making it known the line is getting pushed) and what to do when they are ignored.  This is so much a part of living fearlessly and being intimate.  All of it goes into trust.  But my personal emphasis right now is on self-respect and responsibility to myself.

I’ve had a couple of incidences lately that have violated my boundaries in large and small ways.  Taken individually, I think that the relationship between myself and this other person would have been able to build some kind of bridge to healing and helped us grow together to become closer.  When I brought up the issues, though, what I received was flat out denial and lies. 

This makes me think that I have become more invested in this relationship than the other person.  I keep assuming that they care about me, and that they want what I have to offer and, in order to get that, will respond in kind.  What I have come to realize is that they want what I materially have to offer, but feel no sincere motivation to be reciprocal or respectful.  In the past with this person, I have tortured myself with what might happen if I stood up and held my ground, and then allowed myself to be emotionally manipulated.

I can’t do it anymore.  We want different things from our relationship and our lives, and I can’t be a party any longer to my own destruction.  So, tonight I will set the boundaries really, really far away from the reach of my home and heart and make clear the conditions upon which I would be willing to spend time with this person down the road.

The hardest part is that the love won’t ever stop, and I had to choose between two griefs – losing him, or losing me.  Maybe one day…

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Crocus

Something is eating my crocuses.  Not the white ones, and the purple ones seem to be it’s second choice, but the mixed whited and purple striated ones are gone.  History.  Eaten down to a stump with not even a leaf left.  I wonder, do the the different colors taste different?  It’s kind of sad, because they got a late start.  While my neighbor’s daffs and even tulips are blooming, my little garden just started with the crocuses.  They got one day, and then they were food.

My son called a couple of weeks back, sobbing, asking for a place to stay.  It seems the GFs parents were tired of supporting him.  It has been almost a year, after all, and it’s probably not his fault that he hasn’t found a job yet.  I relented, I took him in.  All was well for the first week and a half or so.  I had jobs around the house he could do for money.  He was polite, considerate, followed the rules.  Then came the day I told him I had no more jobs for him.  Wow! NY minute!  It all came back.  The sullenness, the name-calling, the taking over of my living room, just the general pissiness.  Loud music, refusal to talk, especially about future plans.  I told him he has to find a new place to stay.  It breaks my heart that he and I fall back into that parent/child dynamic so quickly.  It also breaks my heart that he hasn’t reached his bottom yet.  I no longer think he’s doing drugs (hard ones, anyway) or drinking, but he seems to think that others should provide for all of his desires and needs.  I fear that he will be chronically in this socio/economic mental place.  How do I give him non-judgemental love?

I miss my little boy.  I miss my flowers.

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I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but I simply have not had time.  But I’ve had this idea in my head, thoughts about the ways friendships develop, the care we have to give them, and the different values we assign to them.  I’ve been making some really awesome friends this year – womyn that I simply now cannot imagine not being a part of my life.

But I also have been discovering that everyone has different levels of personal privacy.  In areas that seem, on the surface, to have no reason for being private.  Innocuous comments illicit silence that cannot be explained.  For example, I was talking with one of my new friends about my book and I was explaing that I needed to beef up one storyline because I wanted to really emphasize the way that strong, capable womyn can sometimes get sucked into abusive relationships before they even really know they’ve gone there and then are too ashamed and consequently afraid to get help.  This is a friend that, while new, I thought I had a fair amount of intimate knowledge about.  We had shared some stuff that made both of us cry.  At the time of our conversation, I couldn’t really understand her non-reaction and our conversation about what I could do for my book kind of fizzled.  I certainly didn’t put it together with my lack of being able to figure out where she lived.  BTW, she’s not in a bad situation, it’s just that these simple things hit too close to home.  Too close to recent(ish) home.

I have another friend who simply tells half truths about herself as a matter of protection.  Everything she says is technically true, but very little she says is the way it really is.  She is afraid of intimacy and afraid that people who are interested in sharing time with her are really doing so, so that they can take what they learn about her and hurt her for their own amusement.  What makes our friendship difficult is that as we grow together, those half-truths must be revealed and it can be awkward.

At my age, and the age of my friends, we all carry baggage.  We’ve all been broken and hurt in some way or another.  When I experience this difference of communication and trust, it always sets me back a little.  To find out that my friends are more human than I realized sometimes makes me want to react before I think.  I try so hard to not live in reaction to fear and to relate with trust and love with my friends that sometimes I get a little hurt.  Then I have to go back and realize that a) it’s not about me and my friends are trying to take care of themselves, not hurt me; and b) when I accept and embrace their humanity, I stand a better chance of them accepting mine.  And while I know in my mind that really I am perfect and do everything in the best possible way, my friends may not agree about that.

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Okay, first off, I want to warn anyone who has been sexually abused that this is what this post is about.  I’ll put all that stuff further down, so you can decide whether or not you want to read it.

This past weekend, I went out with some friends to Freeport, Maine to a little yarn get together we like to call SPA.  I totally forget what that is an anacronym for.  But there was the obligatory marketplace and I was the obligatory shopper.  Lots of indie dyers and spinners!  I got me some bunny, and some alpaca, and a sweater’s worth of hand-dyed wool that is yummy!!!  I also got a few sock kits and I even won a doorprize!  It’s a book, Knitting With Beads, which coincidentally, I’ve been wanting to learn how to do.  I’ll post a picture here later.  It was good to go out with my ‘home’ friends.  I’ve been spending a lot of time either traveling or being visited and I have missed them.  It’s too easy to put local people off and expect that they’ll be available any old time.  That’s not always true, and they’re the ones who can be there for you in a pinch.   So, yeah, it was really, really nice.

Trigger- I don’t know if it’s a fact of age, or the cycles of life, but the things that impact us in a big way don’t tend to stay gone.  It’s true of the really great things – dreams we’ve had, adventures we’ve wanted to take, people we have lost touch with and found again.  We greet these returns with joy and wonder, ” Why did I ever let that go?”

But the hard things also circle back.  And then we’re more like, “I thought I had dealt with this!  Why is it coming back now?   I thought I had healed.”  Some of my friends and I seem to be looking at our hard stuff again.  From different angles, different perspectives.  Dealing with feelings around child rape, physical and emotional abuse, how it has changed our lives, how we’ve grown because we had to.  Trying to sort out anger and shame yet again.  And, also, wondering, “Why now?”

I’ve got a theory about that.  Each of my friends who is in this place is also in a similar emotional, spiritual place.  We’ve made commitments to ourselves and to others that we will be more open, be a little more transparent, share more and really, truly connect.  In a word, be more vulnerable. (Okay, so that’s three words – shoot me!) Vulnerability and trust are hard for us.  We’re not special or unique, there are plenty of others who have the same issues for the same reasons, but those reasons broke something we consciously work to fix.  And we fix what we can.  Then we rest and enjoy the blessings that come from learning trust.

After a bit, the joy of that plateau is not enough and we have to cycle through again, because we know what is waiting for us – we’ve glimpsed it, we’ve tasted it.  Because of where we came from and the steel that we are made of, we are an exceptional group of solid womyn who know themselves intimately.  We know the value of introspection and philosophical thought.  We don’t share easily, but when we do, it’s deep and truly meaningful.  We are also adventure seekers and risk-takers – because we know what the worst is, and we have conquered it.  My best friends have all been through some kind of life changing trauma.  We keep perspective and put the trauma away when it no longer serves us to examine it.  Just like we trade in our passions when there is something else we want to spend our time on.  We do the hard stuff, fun or not-so-much, because we truly want to live.

Knowing my friends, and helping to carry the baggage, it’s a good thing.   I like the womon I am, and I know I wouldn’t be this womon if I hadn’t had my own baggage.  I think the time is coming that I will forgive my abuser, but now – to thank him?  No, that will never happen.  Not in this life.

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