Tag Archives: being strong

I’m No Damsel

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As a survivor of abuse, I can’t tell you how many times I just wished for someone to come a whisk me away and make my life better. When I was little I would dream of being kidnapped. No kidding. I seriously felt that being kidnapped by a complete stranger would be better than the hell that I lived in. I also dreamed that my grandfather (maternal) would show up at my school and take me away. I don’t know why I pictured him. I knew that he wasn’t a good father to my mother. Maybe it’s because I knew that my mother didn’t talk to him. I would daydream about my life as Cinderella. My mother fit the bill for the evil step-mother with the way she treated me and used me. I longed for adulthood. I couldn’t wait to meet my Prince Charming and get the heck out of there.

When those dreams seemed too far out of reach, I would dream of perhaps just running away and living on the streets. I figured any restaurant owner would give me food since I was a cute, blond little girl. I would sneak into Sears and sleep on the mattresses overnight and steal clothes when I needed it and still show up to school. I had it all worked out in my little head. But I always knew that even if I ran away, chances were, I would end up back at home with my mother even more angry and furious at me.

As I got older my daydreams shifted to a more romantic setting. I would meet a boy who came from a rich family and he would fall in love with me and take care of me for the rest of my life. I would have great opportunities to get an education and have an amazing career. It was all in my dreams. I didn’t even really date as a teen so the idea of ever meeting someone seemed so far out of reach and I had a hard time keeping friends as well. The truth was, my heart wasn’t in it to just get swept off my feet and married. I was searching for an out and someone who would stick up for me. It seemed like nobody would. I used to think that Dave was my buffer from my mother but I realize now that he never stuck up for me like he said he did. He would always tell me how he thought my mother was crazy and a stone-cold bitch and that he would stick up for me when I wasn’t around. I realize now that he only said those things to groom me and win my trust so he could molest me. His facade was beginning to shatter when I was a teenager and I had no one who would tell my mother to back off and leave me alone. He just stood and watched. Sometimes he would shake his head. If he did say anything to her she would have just exploded into another argument with him and he didn’t want that so I typically took the brunt of her anger.

When Forrest Gump came out in the early 90’s, I remember a scene that has always stuck with me. A young Jenny was running through a field to escape her abusive father when she stopped and knelt down to pray. She said, “Dear God, make me a bird. So I could fly far, far away from here.” Forrest then goes on to say that God works in mysterious ways and that he didn’t make Jenny into a bird but instead the state came and told her she didn’t have to live there any more and she moved in with her grandma. THAT was how I felt deep, deep inside. I wanted wings to fly far, far away. I wanted someone to come and say that I didn’t have to be there any more. I wasn’t religious and neither was my family but I began to pray that. I was about 14. The molestation was over but living with the memories and my mother was not.

God never gave me wings… or a social worker. I never got rescued from that home. I did finally leave at 19 and was independent my 21 and I was far enough away. It never worked out the way I dreamed it would. Things ended up quite different from my childhood daydreams. I didn’t meet a man who was rich or a prince or anything like that but I did meet a man who taught me personal love and strength. I was honest with him about my abuse from the get-go. I always knew that once someone got to intimately know me they would sense that something was amiss so I might as well be up front about it. He was loving and accepting toward me about it.

Anytime I told him that I loved him he would say, “me too.” Like, he loves himself too. He still does this! I asked him why he said that. I thought he was only being ornery. He always told me that nobody will ever love you more than you love yourself. He knew that I had self-love issues. I tried really hard to not hate myself but it was easier said than done. I hated everything about myself at times. After we got married, I began to realize that he was right. He didn’t step into my life and whisk me away and battle my family for me. Instead he stuck by my side and helped me find the strength to fight my own battle.

A few years ago I began reading up on feminism and admiring other women who were strong. I have learned (and still am learning) to take all that I have learned about strength, love, and myself and concoct my own medicine for healing. I have learned to build my own battle armor. I had to get to this place on my own and I am grateful for that. While it would have been easy on me for someone else to do all the dirty work, it just isn’t reality. Even if I would have been taken away as a child and put in the foster system, I would still have big personal battles to fight.

I have learned in the last few years that the idea of a damsel in distress is bullshit.  The idea that women are too weak to stand up for themselves or fight a battle is so yesteryear. Disney movies can suck it. What Cinderella needed to do was punch that old hag in the jaw and get out of there. Perhaps move to the big city and become a fashion designer with the help of her mice and tweety birds. I wish I could have stood up for myself as a child like that, but I couldn’t. Now I can.

I have to make the personal choice everyday to stay strong and stand my ground. Sure, the pain is real but it also reminds me that I made it and I’m alive. I don’t need rescuing or fairy tales. What I do need is relationships that are real and mutual. Everything else comes from within.

At this point in my life if I want wings to fly far, far away it’s gonna be on a plane to Hawaii so I can sit on the beach and drink Pina Coladas all day. Some day perhaps…

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A Head Full of Regret

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Recovery from abuse is a process. It’s like grieving the death of a loved one. Right now, not only am I coming to terms with what happened to me but I am also having to face my own regrets surrounding the abuse and grieving the “death” of my parents. They aren’t really dead but in my heart they are. That part has been hard. When I first sent my mother the “break-up” letter I had regrets about it. It was difficult and took me almost 30 minutes to hit send. I cried and was sad for a couple of days after that until she went public denouncing my brother and I. Then I didn’t feel so sad about it and knew that I did the right thing. Now my regret is the fact that I waited so long to come forward about it. Those that are close to me know that I was molested by my step-father but most don’t know to what extent. I really didn’t talk about it other than just saying that it happened. Just like my mother, I was trying to paint the facade of a functional normal family but I couldn’t keep up the charade any more. This week I have been flooded with questions that I have asked myself. Some of them I disregard because I know that it wasn’t my fault while others I am beating myself up about them a little. Some of the questions are the “what if’s.”

What if I had not lied to DFS when I was little? My parents threatened me and told me that I would be taken away and put in foster care with families that wouldn’t love and would beat me more than I was already being beaten. I realize now that probably wouldn’t have happened. I know now that I have always had a family that loves me and given the opportunity they would have probably taken me in. I highly doubt that any of my grandparents or aunts and uncles would have let me go into the foster system without putting up a fight. So, if I would have just said something, would I have had a better life? Would my brother have had a better life? I don’t know. I was so young that making that kind of decision back then was 100% my mother’s responsibility. I had another opportunity when I was 11 or 12 and again, I was too afraid to say anything.

Why didn’t I cut them off when I was finally and independent? When I was 21, I was finally broken free from them and lived about 5 hours away. I didn’t really speak to them for about a year but it had more to do with my mother trying to control me than about the abuse as a child. I had the opportunity to just say “sayonara” and be on my merry way… but I didn’t. After a while I was still trying to maintain a relationship with them. I think this time it goes back to the fact that I was a Christian and was trying to do the right, Christian thing and that would have been forgiving and forgetting.

I left the confines of religion when I was about 27. At this point, Christianity wasn’t holding me back anymore but I still didn’t change my relationship with my parents. I think that I had just gotten used to what we had and at that point I was married and had our son. I always had that underlying guilt of letting my mother go. She would always ask me, “If I don’t have you, then who can I talk to?!” She always made me feel guilty for not being there for her even though I told her several times that I didn’t want to be her friend. She really had nobody. She had no parents or siblings. She did have a couple of cousins and her aunt and uncle but they were in California and Pennsylvania which wasn’t close enough, I guess. I was conflicted, there’s no doubt about that. I always felt uncomfortable being around Dave or allowing my son around him but I disregarded those feelings by trying to convince myself that he wasn’t a danger to anyone and that my mother deserved to be a grandmother. After writing almost 40 posts on this blog I now wonder what the fuck was wrong with me! Why did I find this relationship necessary? What took me so long to cut them off??

My main regret, right now, is that I allowed this relationship to go on long enough that they became a part of my son’s life. Luckily, my daughter is young enough that she will never remember them but my son is not. Every once in a while he asks when he can call his grandma or when we are going to visit. I just say “sometime” and change the subject. He’s only 7 so he is way too young to share with him. I feel bad for dragging my husband along when I should have been done with this before I got married.

The good thing is that I have so much support from family and friends. I am so grateful for that! I feel like that have spent a lifetime running a marathon, I’m at the last mile and here is all of my family coming out to support me. I guess I could say that I am lucky. I know that many victims of abuse get shunned by their entire family but that’s not the case for me. Instead the perpetrators are being shunned. Sometimes the support is overwhelming but it is what is getting me through. If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have just shoved all of this back down and not gotten the healing that I deserve. The professionals are right when they say that it takes a good support system to heal. Everyone in my circle (and beyond) has been wonderful. I don’t think I have ever felt more loved than I do now! 🙂