Stranger in the Family

Stranger

My real name means foreign or stranger

That is who I have been.

During my early years although I thought I had a mother and a father, in reality I was a stranger to this father. I was not his natural child. It’s hard to know if he accepted me as such as I don’t have any good memories of him.

My memories of him are of fear

I remember an incident when I bought a bunch of candy at the store when I wasn’t supposed to. I remember sitting at the dinning table and being made to eat all the candy. Unfortunately for me the bag did not contain all the kinds I liked. I had to suffer eating things I didn’t like and becoming sick from too much to teach me a lesson. I also recall that it went like that for meal times too. I had to sit there and try to swallow foods I hated. This could have been both my mothers and his rule, I don’t know.

Another memory, I had been accused of stealing money from a jar. I only remember that I was fearful, not what actually happened.

The most impact-full memories are of him hitting my mother.

Maybe I wasn’t a stranger in this household but I wasn’t in a good place.

Then I met my new family

Now I really was a stranger. The family did get to know me and I started to feel a little more comfortable but I still felt like the outsider.

Enter the abuse and now no one knows who I really am, including me. Why didn’t anyone figure it out and help me? My Grandmother should have figured it out.

I had to move away

I moved from my new family with my abuser. Again I was a stranger living among people I didn’t know. A child with child.

I made friends and had my sister-in-law and her family and my father and his girlfriend as my new family. Although my sister-in-law did her best I still felt I had no family. When my secret came out they blamed me as being a big mouth. I told my dads girlfriend to save her daughter from harm but she sided with him, not me.

I have my own family

Now I have my children and their children and my husband’s family as mine. However we are not as close to his family as the rest of them. I’m not sure why. I am an outsider to my real family. I have Aunts and uncles and cousins that I barely know. I have a niece, a step brother and their children that I don’t know. I didn’t know my brother or his wife. I don’t have a mother nor a father. All these people live somewhere else. No one is near by and no one makes tries to connect with me.

I got excited when I got on Facebook as I thought I would finally connect with them. But they have lives of their own and don’t give me too much thought that I know of. This hurts greatly. This is still a sore spot with me as I cry into my keyboard.

I do my best to enjoy the family I do have. I’ve tried to put my needing of family behind me and I’ve managed to get over not having parents, but I need to tell my cousins how I feel. I will do this by giving them my website to read.

Are you still a part of your family of origin?

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Please Hear What I Am Not Saying

Woman covering her mouth

The following poem, Please hear what I am not saying, written by Charles C. Finn sounded like it was written for me.

Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.

Pretending is an art that’s second nature with me,
but don’t be fooled,
for God’s sake don’t be fooled.
I give you the impression that I’m secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water’s calm and I’m in command
and that I need no one,
but don’t believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don’t want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That’s why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.

But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it’s followed by acceptance,
if it’s followed by love.
It’s the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It’s the only thing that will assure me
of what I can’t assure myself,
that I’m really worth something.
But I don’t tell you this. I don’t dare to, I’m afraid to.
I’m afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I’m afraid you’ll think less of me,
that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I’m afraid that deep-down I’m nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

So I play my game, my desperate pretending game,
with a facade of assurance without
and a trembling child within.
So begins the glittering but empty parade of masks,
and my life becomes a front.
I idly chatter to you in the suave tones of surface talk.
I tell you everything that’s really nothing,
and nothing of what’s everything,
of what’s crying within me.
So when I’m going through my routine
do not be fooled by what I’m saying.
Please listen carefully and try to hear what I’m not saying,
what I’d like to be able to say,
what for survival I need to say,
but what I can’t say.

I don’t like hiding.
I don’t like playing superficial phony games.
I want to stop playing them.
I want to be genuine and spontaneous and me
but you’ve got to help me.
You’ve got to hold out your hand
even when that’s the last thing I seem to want.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes
the blank stare of the breathing dead.
Only you can call me into aliveness.
Each time you’re kind, and gentle, and encouraging,
each time you try to understand because you really care,
my heart begins to grow wings–
very small wings,
very feeble wings,
but wings!

With your power to touch me into feeling
you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me,
how you can be a creator–an honest-to-God creator–
of the person that is me
if you choose to.
You alone can break down the wall behind which I tremble,
you alone can remove my mask,
you alone can release me from my shadow-world of panic,
from my lonely prison,
if you choose to.
Please choose to.

Do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.
A long conviction of worthlessness builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me the blinder I may strike back.
It’s irrational, but despite what the books say about man
often I am irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love is stronger than strong walls
and in this lies my hope.
Please try to beat down those walls
with firm hands but with gentle hands
for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder?
I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet
and I am every woman you meet.

Copied with permission

I was so good at pretending

I even fooled myself. I thought I was fine. I could live with what he did to me. I could just forget about it.

At the time in my life when I read this I was in command as much as I thought I could be. I felt as though I just needed to be on my own and do my own things.

I wanted someone to notice that I needed help, that confusion and fear were what I was feeling. I couldn’t reassure myself, I needed others to do that for me. I feared rejection. I yearned for someones encouragement and understanding.

I desperately needed people to hear what I wasn’t saying. That finally happened when I went into therapy through the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in my area.

I was lucky enough

I had a few people along the way who saw what I wasn’t saying but the one I wanted most to understand was my husband. I simply haven’t been able to communicate it to him so he can.

If you live in Ontario Canada this site will help you find a similar organization near you.

Feeling – Do you have trouble identifying your feelings?

 

Word Cloud of Feelings

“I don’t know why I am feeling the way I do.”

This statement was in many a journal entry. This had been almost a mantra of mine I said it so often.

Learning about my inability to express my feelings in therapy one day I talked about how I never knew what I was feeling. Nor was I able to express them. My therapist pointed out that it was no surprise. I had suppressed my feelings as a child and continued to do so as an adult. My father told me not to tell and not to feel. Expressing feelings made me vulnerable. I felt good knowing there was a reason why I had stifled my feelings. I hated to cry, but learned that I had to feel my feelings before I could begin to express them.

I used to attend a mood disorder group and someone said something interesting. “Your home reflects how you feel.” I have always changed things in my home. Moving things around trying to get organized yet I never seem to achieve it. That sounded like me and my feelings.

My emotional needs were never met and to some degree still are not, because I have always had a difficult time asking for them. I have never express those needs and always wait until someone frustrated me, then I blew up at them. My emotional needs are be loved, appreciated, supported, protected and listened too.

I needed to see a list of words to help me find what emotions I was feeling. Here is the list that I came up with.

abandoned
absent-minded
abused
affected
afraid
aimless
angry
annoyed
anxious
argumentative
avoided
bleak
battle-worn
beaten
betrayed
bewildered
bitchy
blah
bored
clueless
condescended to
confused
controlled
cursed
damaged
depressed
disbelieved
different
difficult
directionless
disappointed
disappointing
discontent
discounted
discouraged
disorganized
disregarded
dissatisfied
distressed
distrustful
down
drained
dumb
emotional
estranged
fatigued
fearful
flawed
forgotten
friendless
frustrated
heartsick
homesick
hopeless
hung up
hurt
indecisive
independent
insecure
impatient
inadequate
jumpy
let down
left out
lonesome
lost
loveless
low
misunderstood
mixed-up
needy
nervous
open-minded
pain
perfectionism
pissed off
powerless
pessimistic
quiet
resentful
resourceful
responsible
run down
reactive
reflective
repressed
restless
robbed
romantic
sad
scared
screwed up
second-guessed
sorry
spiteful
stressed
stubborn
stupid
suspicious
tension
trembling
unacknowledged
unfulfilled
unimportant
unnoticed
uncertain
unloved
unwanted
unvalued
unsupported
victimized
vulnerable
worried

Seeing this now, no wonder I didn’t want to feel!

Fear

I have always carried around a lot of tension. I thought it was from facing my feelings.I was afraid to. It was exhausting.

While exploring my feelings of fear I had determined that I was not sure when I was having them. I believed that fear had a lot to do with my anxiety. I didn’t tell people when they upset me; because I was afraid it would cause tension, and I have always been afraid of conflict. I did remember fearing my dad. I must have been afraid to keep the secret, afraid to tell the secret, afraid my family would leave me alone if anyone found out. I was afraid I would be alone when my father abandoned me. I was afraid of being a mom, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of someone hurting me and afraid of what MIGHT happen. I was afraid of my abusive boyfriend.

Shame

Shame was another feeling I suppressed. I didn’t know I felt it until it we discussed it in therapy.

While taking to a friend my emotions stirred . She told me I was compassionate and warm and it brought tears to my eyes. Stuff like that always did. I had thought that I didn’t believe it but then decided that I was not hearing that sort of thing often enough. I was not getting enough of the love and appreciation of others. I felt so unloved.

Core Feelings

I had to break down that long list of feeling into my core feelings. It took me a long time to finally arrive at the following:

Inadequate – I often felt inadequate when I had to admit that I didn’t know things such as geography or my poor spelling. I needed and still need to have people tell me I am doing a good job.

Where it came from – My dad not recognizing my efforts in school.

What could I do – remind myself; that I am smart and that I know lots of things, that finishing school is not the only way to gain an education. Tell myself that I am doing a good job.

Powerless – I felt like I had to do what others told me to do. I have never liked that feeling. I wanted to make my own decisions. I was afraid of the potential reaction if I expressed my wants.

Where it came from – When my father told me to do something I obeyed. I did it whether you liked it or not. He instilled fear.

What could I do – Practice assertiveness. Find my voice and ask or state my wants and needs.

Alone – I felt no one was there for me. No one cared enough. No one else would do it so I had to do it. I couldn’t count on others to help me when I needed it. My family didn’t care and I needed them to.

Where it came from – I endured my abuse alone. I had to raise a child without any support. My life experience was, me doing it alone.

What could I do – Remember that I am not alone. I had a husband and kids who cared and were here for me. If I felt unsupported, I should have told them how I felt.

Doing this exercise helped me understand my feelings.

How about you? Do you have a difficult time facing your feelings?

Here are some links to articles on feelings that I think are helpful.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrea-wachter/managing-emotions_b_2717206.html

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-uncomfortable-feelings/

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-sociability/201201/feeling-your-feelings-0

Sense of Self – Do you have a sense of self?

 sense of self

A sense of self is your beliefs about yourself.

If you have a strong sense of self you are comfortable with yourself. When you have a lack of sense of self you don’t know what you believe. You may have heard over and over that you are bad or dumb when you were a child. Then it’s difficult for you to change that belief.

I have always felt that I had no idea who I was. I didn’t understand why I was like this. While in therapy I learned that for years I had to pretend all was well. I had to pretend I was happy and that I wasn’t afraid. Therefor I never had the opportunity to be the real me.

I would do personality tests all the time, but I had such a difficult time answering them. While reading different self-help articles they would ask me to list my strengths. I never knew what they were nor if I even had any. The same went for feelings. I still struggle with what my feelings are. Click here to read my Feelings Post.

According to The Courage to Heal

Survivors have a hard time recognizing their own interests, talents, or goals.

I am not self-aware. I have to ask other what my natural talents are. When you are self-aware it is easier to make changes to areas you think could use improvement. Understanding yourself helps you have meaning to your life. I have struggled with what I think I should be doing with my life. Now that I have started this blog I’m beginning to think this is one of the things I am supposed to do. I always said I’d like to help others like myself.

When you have a positive self-esteem you like yourself. You have confidence and respect yourself. Only when you respect yourself can you respect others. Then you can have lasting relationships. I have had a hard time making and keeping friends. My low self-esteem is a part of that.

Perhaps these questions can help you determine your sense of self.

What are your strengths?

My Strengths: responsible, kind, love to learn, like to teach, leader, fun-loving, thoughtful, strong, resourceful, independent, reflective, romantic and open-minded.

What are your weaknesses?

My Weaknesses: afraid of conflict, confused, reactive, stress easily and stubborn.

What are your beliefs about yourself?

Beliefs about me: I am a survivor, damaged, powerless, afraid, alone, my needs don’t matter and I am quiet.

This list is from 2010. Here is my new list.

Beliefs about me: survivor, healing, empowered, I can ask for what I want with extra courage, quiet

What are your beliefs about others?

Beliefs about others: you can’t count on some people, most are dependable.

What are your interests?

My Interests: I had nothing under this in 2010. I am interested in lots of things, especially learning new things. Now I am into Girl Guides, blogging, reading, camping, direct selling, wine and more.

What relationships do you  have?

My relationships: I am a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, employee, entrepreneur, leader and a caregiver.

Please comment below with your answers to one of these questions.

Word Cloud describing me

My Story of Childhood Abuse

moongirlca August 13, 2014 2

my story of Childhood Abuse

TRIGGER WARNING

This is my story of childhood abuse. I needed to tell my story and I believe my story needs to be heard.

For reasons I will never know, my mother took me away from my father and brother when I was one. We lived with the man who I thought was my father for as long as I could remember. My mother raised me as an only child but my bother did come and live with us for a short time.

My mother and ‘father’ frequently fought

I would lay awake at night listening as he yelled and threw things. The next day I saw bruises on her. I remember we had to sleep in the car one time. I was afraid of this man. One day my mother finally left him. We went to a hotel and met this other man who turned out to be my real father. He took us to his home and I found out that he was in fact my real father. I would have been about 10 to 11.

Mom and I moved in with him for a time. I met my new family. Found out from my dad that my birthday was not what I had thought it was. Someone told me that my mother had a false birth certificate for me with wrong birth date.

My mother left me with my dad

He told me she would rather go off with some @#%& guy than stay with me. He never had any nice things to say about my mom. He got me to feel sorry for him, all alone with no wife and his daughter taken away from him. He needed someone to take care of him. Being the kind caring person I am, I felt bad for him. Mom came back once for a visit but I never did see her again after that.

The Abuse started gradually

I was in grade six and was missing a lot of school. I’m sure that was because of the abuse. It started slowly. He made it seem almost natural. So much so that I didn’t think anything was wrong at first. He cautioned me to keep quite. Told me bad things would happen if I didn’t.

Emotional and Physiological Abuse

Although I don’t remember him hitting me he ruled with power. I was afraid of what he might do. I remember hiding from him over something I did, afraid of what he’d do. He hit our little Chihuahua over the head for some infraction and it had a bump. Once day that Chihuahua disappeared. He told me someone stole him from the back yard.

The Birds and the Bees

One day I saw the word ‘slut’ written on a wall and asking him what it meant. He told me about sex and about menstruation. He was my only parent and I trusted him and loved him dearly.

You’re not good enough

In grade 6 and 7, I didn’t do well in school. Math and English were difficult for me. I remember getting a high mark on a math test and everyone was happy, the teacher the students. I came home and told dad and his reply was “why didn’t you get 100 %”

Dad got a phone call in December and he was told that my mom died. He told me that she had a hysterectomy, had sex too soon after and hemorrhaged to death. My mom always seemed was at fault for things.

The abuse continues and escalates

He tried to penetrate but I resisted. Somehow he managed to get one of my friends to join us.

He penetrated her and there was lots of blood and pain. It was rather frightening which was confusing being as my body felt stimulation as well. (This made me think I must have liked it).

(Now after some therapy I learned that my dialog uses  consenting adult terminology and what really happened is abuse and or rape)

Alcohol

All the men and most of the women in the family drank a lot. Dad would get drunk and drive off the road with me in the car. He also fell asleep while cooking and I woke to smoke. I had to put it out and put him to bed. He fell asleep in bed while smoking and once again I awoke to smoke filling the house and we had to carry the smouldering mattress outside. My father was usually a quiet person but not so when drinking. He let me have alcohol. I felt quite special being about to drink while underage. He let me smoke cigars. I learned to avoid setting him off when he was drinking. You did what you had to do to avoid conflict.

It seemed to run in the family

My Grandfather would corner me in their small kitchen so I couldn’t easily get by. He would get right into my personal space and pat me on the bottom. It was uncomfortable and I avoided passing by him in small spaces.

My uncle drank even more than my dad I think. He would walk around his house naked when drunk and my aunt would have to yell at him. He was the silly uncle. The kids loved him. She was the nag. I remember being in his truck once and him making a pass. I said no and luckily that was the end of it. I can’t help but wonder what their childhood was like?

All the way

He finally went all the way sometime during the summer or fall. It happened while we were camping, alone. I remember thinking that I had nothing to stop him with now. By this time I knew it wasn’t right and I didn’t know how to stop it or what to do.

When I was 15 to 16 he lost his business and we moved. He became involved with my friends mom and we moved in together. She and I slept in the same bed. It didn’t take long for him to turn to her. He would abuse her while he thought I was asleep. I remember feeling jealous. I also remember thinking thank goodness it’s not me anymore. She became pregnant and her mother kicked us out. I think she told me I could stay with her but I declined. I still loved my father.

Pregnant

Next we lived above a bar. I became pregnant and quit school in my second year of high school. To hide me we moved to new city. We stayed with my sister-in-law and we told everyone that I got pregnant from a boyfriend. So I had the stigma of a teen pregnancy.

It didn’t take him long to find another woman and we moved in with her and her two kids. He told me that I could have an abortion if I wanted. I decided to keep the baby. I was already maternal and dreamed of having a baby of my own. I stayed in their basement for a while and then moved in with the sister-in-law and her friend. At age 17 I had my baby boy. I met someone and we moved in together.

My father was still in my life. I hated him but I loved him. I didn’t want to be alone. I needed a father. I remember my Dad staying over at my apartment, for some reason and he climbed into bed while I was sleeping. I moved and slept on the couch. That was the end of him trying anything again.

My father abandons me yet again

He moved away and was having a life of his own. He didn’t give me any financial or emotional support. I got involved in a support group and it was there that I finally told my story for the first time. The facilitator guessed it and said it out loud before I could. I also told my Grandmother, who had guessed as well. My grandmother was the only family member who seems to care at all. Dad left and the rest of my family lived far away. I felt like I had no family at all. It was just me and my baby.

Thanks to my father I was to start on another part of my life without the skills and love I needed to make the right decisions. See my Relationships post.

Where you able to tell your story?

Welcome to my Blog

This blog has subjects intended for mature readers. Note that in some cases posts may trigger abuse survivors. I don’t however want to ban children from this site as they need to know that they are not alone. Therefore let’s be mindful of our language.

Welcome to my world

I am a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse

I have been and still am on a journey to find myself. I have tried self-help methods as well as therapy. Therapy helped the most but I am still struggling.

When I started searching online for others like me I felt as though there was no one else like me. Yes, there are lots of stories about CSA. Many were of people who had horrific experiences that led to dissociative disorder. Many more were small children when it happened to them. I felt that my experience was not as bad as theirs. Plus in my case I had a child as a result of the abuse. When I went into therapy I felt the same way while listening to the others’ stories.

My therapist helped me realize that what happened to me was just as bad, but in a different way. So here I am still finding my way and hoping I can help others find their way or at least support them along their journey.

While researching the best way to set up this blog

I found sites of people who had become professionals. They wrote books and offered treatment. I am just a regular person. I’m not even a really a writer. I have no concrete answers. I only have my experiences and things I have learned along the way. I hope to find more out there like me who would benefit from this blog, and learn along with me.

I am not giving advice and take no responsibility for your actions upon reading my posts. I am no professional. I just hope for a dialog, a connections with my readers.

I am writing this blog without using my real name

I don’t care if you know who I am. I’d be fine with that. The only reason I am not using my name is to protect my son. I feel that my decision to keep my son even thought he was a result of my abuse is an important part of my story and of who I am. I only wish to protect him. So if you do figure out who I am, please leave real names out of any comments.

Please note that some posts may be a trigger for some. I will try not to go into too much detail so triggers should be mild, except perhaps for my STORY.

Please comment so I can get to know you too.