Category: Trauma

Goodbye Dad, again…

Goodbye Dad, again…

my father has been leaving voicemails for a few months now. we had a falling out last year when he called me at 4am my time making accusations that were not only hurtful but also incorrect.

i’ve been blamed for everything when it comes to my father. i was never enough for him. me the person was never enough for their own father…and yes it hurts.

all of the numbers i have for him are blocked so they do go to a blocked folder on my phone. (i don’t have a landline and haven’t for well over 10 years.) new vm’s started showing up a few months ago and i ignored them. he never says anything other than “this is your dad…just trying to reach you…okay. <click>”

he finally left a vm that briefly mentioned something about having an operation and that he couldn’t walk for awhile but beyond that i didn’t much more so i called and chose to forego the fake talk and just stick to the facts. this was a few weeks ago, not today.

what should have been a perfect opportunity to say he was sorry for his horrible phone call a year ago, he chose to act as if things are just rosy and fine as they’ve always been. he’s done that his entire life. he’s not at fault. there’s never a need to apologize or take responsibility for his own actions. it’s always the other persons fault and when he doesn’t like someone telling him the truth he lashes out.

after our last call i left him a vm that said “i’m sorry you have to hear this over voicemail but please don’t call me anymore. there’s nothing i can do for you any longer. i have a new life. i live 3000 miles away in boston and i haven’t seen you in over 25 years. i wish you the best in whatever manner that means but please please please. if you respect me as a son, do not ever call me again.”

i thought that would have been enough but it wasn’t. more vm’s showed up. 5-10 second snippets of “just me, trying to reach you, again.” as if that’s my fault? i called the home phone to leave a vm that i had hoped his wife would hear. in that vm i said to her “do not allow my father to call me again. i don’t know what his health his like and if it’s failing there’s nothing i can do for him. so please. i know this will sound harsh but forget i ever existed and please leave me alone.”

i thought that was the end of it and i could finally breathe easy…until today.

today started as a good day so i was feeling pretty positive even though i had seen another vm that had come in late last night. another 12 sec version, more guilt and a sense of urgency. i tried to put it out of mind and focus on the other tasks i needed to get done today. and then i caved…

i figured if i was in a solid place and in a positive mood how could anything go wrong right? wrong.

as usual the phone call turned into him calling me names no child should ever have to hear from a parent. more blame and more name calling is not part of my daily life any longer and it was time i told him the truth in a calm and direct manner.

the statement i made to him wasn’t about the past. it wasn’t about childhood. it was about who he is today and his actions of who is today. he’s never learned that he’s the one who’s chased every person away from him in his life and now at 78 the truth is coming home to roost.

it must be scary to be 78 and not know where you failing health will take you. it’s a fate that many many people face on a daily basis so i don’t have any sympathy there. heck. he’s been kicking me to the curb since i was 2 years old and at my age now you think i’m still going to allow you to tear me down because your a selfish self centered old man?

i owe you nothing…

after he fired off all of the below the belt insults i simply told him “you don’t get to turn my life upside down because you think you’re entitled to call me your son. i’m not your son and i haven’t been for quite a long time. you’ve never liked it when people tell you the truth to your face but there it is. don’t ever call me again. pretend i never existed and i’ll do the same.”

he was still yelling hateful things when i turned off my phone. hateful to the end…

yes today hurts, things like this always do. the difference for me today is it won’t paralyze me any longer. there are no more emotional rubber bands to snap me back to those horrible years. those emotional times that zing you right back to being some submissive boy desperate for his father’s love that he’d let him call him any derogatory name in the book and cry alone behind closed doors so he’d never see the pain he caused.

i may hurt and that’s okay. the fact that i can push past the hurt and see that my life is still unfolding ahead of me is a huge huge step. just one of many but progress nonetheless.

goodbye dad. the mental health field has tried to make me conform to societies norms of “but he’s your father” and that’s not always a healthy viewpoint. sometimes the only way to survive is by letting go of childhood wishes and longings that will never materialize for you. in my case i’ll never know what it’s like to hear and feel what it’s like to have a parent acknowledge they’ve wronged you and show a genuine interest in rebuilding that trust. the trust they themselves broke which has impacted your entire life.

the requirement has never been some grand gesture or pubic flogging by any means. just that one simple phrase and look in their eyes that lets you know they finally get it.

as a photographer it’ll be hard to put away pictures of my childhood. photos of him and me before everything went off the rails. before i ended up living with my grandmother because he made home life so horrible my mother ended up in a mental institution. (the short version, my grandmother and the catholic church did the rest.)

anywho…i’m just letting all of this flow out as it happens and so i don’t implode keeping it all bottled up inside.

i dunno. this october will mark 13 years sober and after everything i’ve been through setting up an entirely new life here in a small town i knew nothing about, and my mother’s passing during all of this as well. i’d say i’m holding up pretty well.

today i had firewood delivered which is a PERFECT mindfulness exercise for focusing on the task at hand rather than all of this other ugly stuff. i don’t care how wet i get. i don’t care if it sucks. i don’t care if i get eaten alive by mosquitos.

school psychologists would always as me about home life or family life and i’d always say the same thing. “we’re like dandelions.” “in what way?” “well, you know how when you blow on them they scatter all over?” “yes” “we’re like that. as soon as you’re old enough to fend for yourself, we all scatter as far away from each other as we can get.”

during the summer i’ll have my coffee on the deck and when it’s dandelion season i’ll hand pick every last one of those suckers until they’re all gone. my inner dialog going…

“nope…nope…nope…not in my yard you don’t”

get rid of the weeds in your life. they suck the energy out of you and they leave nothing beneficial behind. ~R

Winner Takes All…

Winner Takes All…

From one of my favorite stories of the Big Book of A.A. Winner takes all is about a young woman born legally blind but keenly aware she was the lesser wanted child of her siblings. This is the last chapter of the story and it was the one that gave me my Aha moment. Regardless of how things do or don’t turn out with my Father. None of that is relevant. Today is relevant. What I choose to think and feel is relevant. How my actions reflect those thoughts and feelings are relevant.

It’s hard when you have to say goodbye to a parent, especially one who’s still living. I don’t hate my Father but I don’t like him either and that’s a very valid feeling. I wish him the best in whatever capacity that might mean for him today. For myself? I’m moving forward to continue my healing process.

Hope for me are the positive things I can see on the horizon. Those in the front window of my imaginary car. The rear view mirror serves me no purpose any longer. It’s utility is reserved only for short and subtle reminders of where I’ve been and where I never want to return.

Although my Father may have been the primary cause for stuffing and swallowing my feelings of guilt and shame all these years. That doesn’t mean it’s a permanent state of being. The choice is mine, on a daily basis.

Today. Today I choose to be happy and I hope you’ll do the same. ~R

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Enough…

Enough…

For anyone new to the site I’d like to offer some insight to my Twitter and #SurvivorCulture tweet. My site needs work so you’re probably seeing a happy post about getting back to my previous therapist. Which definitely is good news…especially given the current circumstances.

My father and I tried to forge or repair some sort of relationship last year and it blew up in my face pretty badly. That’s always been the history when it comes to my father and me. When in doubt, blame the kid.

My father has an anger and mental abuse problem and he’s never owned it. I owned it for him by swallowing every single form of abuse he chose to dish out. Verbal, physical and the worst of all. Complete shut out and denial. If he didn’t want to hear something he made sure he got his way and never ever had to live with consequences.

Well. Here we are today. Him leaving me voicemail after voicemail playing the aging old man and I’m sick card. Uh uh. That’s not how life works.

The last time I saw my father was over 25 years ago. We’ve had sporadic phone contact over the years and always at my reaching out to him rather than the other way around.

My usual role as the hurt little boy wanting the love of his father has been a hard role to live through and it’s come at a great great cost. No regrets though. Truly. Because that life is no more…

The #MeToo movement came along at a time in my life when I was already trying to unravel and make sense of my childhood. What I had planned on was it accelerating my having to deal with my own childhood sexual abuse. Not only was my childhood traumatic and painful, he’s still coming from this utterly disgusting catholic altar boy silence and denial upbringing.

I’m still working through the dynamics of an older female family member having been my abuser. Not entirely sure where I’m going with this blog but I hope to get back to my photography. All of the images on the site are mine now and I still have a whole other site to convert over.

Thank you for reading and thank you for being here. ~R

 

why bother part 2…

why bother part 2…

well, the house is fully automated. lights on timers. varying so as to project someone home. bills are all automated although i’m sure electricity and other services will eventually get cut…

in the meantime, there’s no reason to keep up this charade any longer. this site is paid up for two years, it’ll stay online until non-payment happens.

i haven’t found homes for my cats yet but will soon and i don’t really care what happens to my house once i’m no longer here. when you’re gone, nothing matters, nothing hurts anymore either.

that’s all i want. no more loneliness. no more pain. no more being taken advantage of. no more being brushed aside, diminished or shrugged away.

i thought i could do it. keep going no matter the costs. keep going in hopes of some mythical release or indescribable amount of love and safety the likes of which no one has ever know was finally going to magically wash over me and i’d finally know what love and safety felt like…that was the hope anyway.

childhood sexual abuse and non-stop trauma can damage someone beyond repair. i sacrificed not only giving up the idea of ‘wanting’ kids but intentionally making sure that my name ends with me.

i’d like to think i’d be a great father. one of those fathers who’s always fascinated in anything you’d say or do. a father who’d share the same childlike imagination in stories and in real life so that everything would always seem possible. a father who’s very presence meant you’d never ever have to feel unloved, unsafe or unworthy. a father who’s one look was enough to let you know you’d be okay, you were protected and you were loved…

I’ve never met anyone else like me…

I’ve never met anyone else like me…

My greatest need for support is in finding a way to adapt my Anxiety/Panic Disorder through the lenses of an adult still very much living with ADHD from childhood and who was never given the necessary support and consistency in tools to manage interpersonal situations. Couple that with the early childhood trauma and thats where the symptoms of PTSD really manifest themselves. Depression is never far away thanks to my maternal biology and while not entirely omnipresent. Things do run in cycles and when the low hits, it get dark very fast and for a very persistent period of time.

My day to day Anxiety is at such high levels its affecting my health. Seemingly ordinary stress from trying to managed very ordinary skills such as the randomness of grocery shopping or dealing with the local post office are constant land mines that I still haven’t been able to adapt to.

I’ll never be free of these symptoms, physically or emotionally, there’s too much psychological damage for that. To me that’s not really a bad place to begin from. In the sense that if I accept that I do in fact have challenges, as do many other people with all sorts of disabilities and varying degrees. Then the work begins in dealing with the one last topic I’ve never been able to fully unburden myself of and that’s having been sexually abused by my own Aunt while my Grandmother and Mother both knew. It’s the mainspring of all the events in my life as I recall them.

I’ve never met anyone else like me. I probably never will. I think that part hurts me the most right now. I disconnected myself from trusting people at the age of 5 but it began much earlier than that and was fully complete at the age of 8 in the story I’m about to share.

Over the years one way I tried to categorize things in my life was in terms of biological issues versus nurture issues. Biological would be things like multiple childhood surgeries starting with a skin graft at the age of 2 and kidney surgery at the age of 8. The kidney surgery was during one of the roughest times of my life while trying to adjust to being newly diagnosed with ADD w/hyperactivity disorder, they didn’t call it ADHD back then. The house I recuperated in with my mother is also where I would have Petit Mall seizures. My father was verbally abusive and on his visiting days and would enter the house by loudly saying “Alright…what’d he do this week?” all while staring at me as though he couldn’t wait to hit me and chase me. It was like a sport with him. The truth is I never did do anything other than have trouble in a school environment that wasn’t able accommodate my ADD needs while being raised by parents who never followed up on recommendations by our local neighborhood family services clinic.

This was the same house my mother left my suitcase on the doorstep for me one night after spending the weekend with my father. We pulled up on the opposite side of the street. No lights are on, the screen door looks open but I can’t make it out.

Inner Video: My ears begin to ring…time slows…I don’t understand…my stomach hurts, it always hurts. His head is down as he walks back to the car, slow motion, mind racing lightning fast, wondering, calculating for what was about to come. I’ve always had to plan for every eventual outcome, it’s a survival mechanism.

The suitcase goes in the backseat and we drive back to Van Nuys. My father was a factory worker with challenges of his own. He kept a simple one bedroom apartment there while he worked 2nd shift with split days off for a large commercial bakery. I never lived with him full time until 7th grade. This was the night he sent me to live with the family of the woman he cheated with at my mother’s reception. I didn’t know all of these things at the time of course, but it definitely explains the horrible living conditions I was in with people I didn’t even know and no support from anyone anywhere that my mother just abandoned me and my father is paying strangers to take care of me. Zero, zip, nada.

Next video: “I don’t know where she is, all she left was his clothes and a note,”

I see myself from behind every time I recall this, hair wet, knees pulled to my chest in bath with water that’s gone cold. Cold because I didn’t want to make noise moving so I could hear what was happening. Stuck. Panic. Fear. What was going to happen to me? If not with my mother than where? Where????

“Please don’t send me back to my grandmother’s house. Please. That’s where Catherine lives, I can’t go back there.” my inner dialog is raging, racing, panicking.  I’m paralyzed, forever broken and unimaginably gutted…my father would never know as I swallow my fear and await for the next fork in my timeline to unfold…

i can’t go back there…someone hear me…please…someone protect me…please…….please.

this is real time as of Tuesday May 15th at 6:32pm.

I’ve just come from a crucial therapist appointment where I may finally have a way to move through this. I’m not editing this piece. It just poured out.

This is my story. This is where I begin.

#MentalHealthAwarenessMonth #CSAQT #WallofSilence #HealMeToo #NotAlone #RAINN #NAMI

 

ongoing notes re: surviving childhood sexual abuse and the movement from victim to survivor

ongoing notes re: surviving childhood sexual abuse and the movement from victim to survivor

i’ve survived childhood sexual abuse and today it’s no longer about placing blame or making complete and utter sense of things from the past. i’m ebbing and flowing between moments of complete contentment and flashing shatters of utter chaos. i say these things from a comfortable place though. it’s taken awhile for my psyche and hardened shell to finally open up enough and allow me to finally forgive myself. forgive myself enough to finally believe that none of it was ever my fault.

from 3rd to around 6th grade i have vivid memories of being overwhelmed during class and i would panic until i found a way to sneak into the coat area or closet and hide under all of the coats. i’d pile them all on top of me so that i’d be in complete darkness, mentally clamoring to shut out the world, my inner voice begging for the din to stop and for ‘it’ to leave me alone. i use school grades to recall my childhood rather than actual age or year.  3rd grade, mrs. glassman, u shaped alcove and pegs. 4th grade, mrs. millet, step in closet, row of pegs. 5th grade, mrs. wolf, u shaped alcove, hooks and shelves for lunch boxes overhead…

the weight of them felt so so calming…i hated it when they would find me. there was one particular classroom that ‘was’ an actual closet rather than the other communal alcove types. this one I had to step into and close the door behind me. one day i saw a boy looking at me trying to figure out what I was doing while I fumbled with the latch. i didn’t have time to process embarrassment or shame, panic to escape overrode all else. it was also the same classroom where we grew green beans in dixie cups had a guinea pig and learned about dinosaurs. mrs. millet was so nice and comforting. pronounced like ‘Edna St. Vincent Millay.  lots of color block pant suits, creme lime green like a perfect nonpareil candy, contrasting vests too with large pockets for keys and whistles. dark hair with curls from those really big purple plastic rollers, the ones with the holes in them, all layered up in a semi bouffant and a scent of jean nate’. she reminded me of my mother, she loved jean nate’ but my favorite was windsong. mrs. millet always knew how to coax me out until my mom could come and get me. we only lived a few blocks away and i would mostly just sleep after that…

eventually i was diagnosed with petit mal seizures, epilepsy runs in the family, as well as ADD, allergies and a calcium deficiency. i had to have allergy shots daily, first riding for hours in the car with my father until he learned how to do them on my shoulder. i was never sure why i had breathing problems but with so much going on it’s easy for mental health needs to get lost in all of that. when i had to have a kidney operation, things were pretty serious health wise for about 6 months…this also granted me a reprieve from my father’s verbal abuse. lucky me…

nature vs nurture, the lines blur for me and no longer matter.

childhood trauma reverberates throughout a lifetime. i don’t remember what the ‘trigger’ was back then other than an overwhelming urge to hide in complete darkness, warmth and silence. it’s only recently that i’m coming to terms with the fact that my challenges today with flashbacks isn’t actually a new thing. it’s been with me my entire life. i still have them and that’s the challenge i’ll have to make adjustments for. life doesn’t owe me anything, i’ll make the best of what i do have and there’s nothing more comfortable than that.

as I sift through the fog and haze of a childhood that never should have been… sometimes i’m comforted in remembering those amazing teachers, school counselors and mental health professionals who did actually recognize me and who also tried to help me directly along the way. my parents weren’t equipped to step up to the plate and assume even the most basic challenges of parenthood which is not okay and that’s not my fault. i forgive myself and begin anew…

sexual abuse isn’t something a family likes to talk about. certainly not if you’re a boy of 6. just prior to that i witnessed things no child should ever have to see or experience. yet i still managed to maintain my composure that fateful day. i bundled up my infant sister, found the diaper bag and knew that i had to call for help. you see, if not for my mother’s suicide attempt, my life never would have taken the turn it did that awful day. a day so seared into memory i could paint it, draw it, recreate it or even photograph it in amazing detail. complete with smells angles of light, color of furniture…it evaporates…it’s also a movie that plays on a constant loop in my head but without any sound…i only hear “mommy needs help.” everything else that judders back and forth in and out of focus is dull and muted…

what the real professionals knew and understood what was underneath all of that mental torment and acting out. what they saw was just a scared little boy looking for some encouragement and who just needed a little structure and support along the way. i craaaaaved stability so much it would ache and crush me from the inside out sometimes. stomaches were part of daily life, they did what they could for as long as they could.

i’ve been twirling this stuff around for awhile now and…well…i guess i finally felt the need to spit it out. why tonight is beyond me but I’ll roll with it.

the solitude of small town life agrees with me. peaceful yes, easy on the body, eh not so much. lol. if i’m going to get through shoulder, knee and potentially hip surgery, i’m gonna need to ‘travel light’ as it were.

i’m glad i’ll be starting start back with my therapist jerre tomorrow. she’s a cool woman who’s also an amazing artist. she specializes in addiction and oddly enough that’s kinda what I need right now. we took a few months off of therapy last fall which was actually really good for me it turns out. i was able to get through the holidays with a sense of peace that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before and i’m beyond grateful.
~R

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