There’s a lot of news right now about men in power sexually abusing those not in power. Years, and sometimes decades go by and these victims don’t speak up, not a word. They bundle up their nasty secrets, carrying them deep inside their psyche, where they quietly fester and infect, never healing.
Why don’t they talk? Why the silence for years then a sudden surge of going public? Are these people making this shit up? Do they want attention? Money? What the fuck is going on? They must be lying, most likely to exact revenge for some mis-perceived slight which they probably deserved anyway.
Some lucky fuckers don’t get it. Why the silence? These people that don’t get it are members of a small elite society. They’ve never been a victim. They wouldn’t know how. They get to go to bed at night and there is no monster looming. They’re not guarded in their joy. Their world isn’t constrained by a narrow field of safety. When they laugh, there is no sinister voice quietly insisting that they have no right to happiness. They have no “dirty” secrets to hide. They are faultless.
Most likely, if you’re in this group, it’s through no effort of your own. It’s just shit luck that you landed there. I’m not chastising you for being one of the luckies, but you need to understand why victims don’t talk and stop making their lives worse by doubting their honesty.
Last night my husband asked me if I had anything happen sexually to me as an adult that I kept secret. I had to stop and think. Surprisingly, the answer was “no.” At least not as an adult. It was at that point I realized how very lucky I am. Yes, there has been a lot of teasing and joking around, but it’s not the same as being coerced to give someone you detest a blow job so you can keep your job, life, car, whatever.
Yes, I said blow job. It’s easy (sort of) to say, “I was sexually abused.” It’s hard as fuck to say, “I had to pull on his dick and then suck it until he ejaculated all over my face.” The details are humiliating and if you can understand that, then you can understand one of the reasons victims stay quiet. Who wants to admit to that shit? Out loud? Don’t think so.
But the main reason is shame. We are taught (let’s call it by it’s real name: groomed) as children to do as our grownups–teachers, parents, superiors–said. Be a good girl. Obey. Obey. Obey. The more this is crammed into your developing being, the more likely you’re going to keep your trap shut about stuff that’s obviously your own fault. Obey.
Shame says: But hey! Let’s face it. You could have said no. You could have walked away. You could have asserted yourself. You should have accepted that you were going to lose your job, or your friend, or your father, uncle, or who-the-fuck-ever. But you didn’t. Shut the fuck up and don’t talk about it.
Victims aren’t stupid. Yes, the rational brain quietly and logically says you didn’t do it of your own free will, and it’s not your fault. But we don’t listen to our brains. Not when the child heart is screaming, accusing you. “You didn’t stop it. You made a choice not to stop it. This is your fault. You’re a dumb fuck and deserve this.” “Your fault.” “Your fault.” “Your fault.” There is no “no” in your vocabulary.
That’s bullshit. You know it. I know it. What’s worse, the victims know it. Yes, their cognitive powers can explain in simple terms why it’s not their fault, but the child heart always prevails. Unless you can feel your own innocence in your heart, it matters diddly squat what your common sense is telling you. You can’t logic away feelings, not even you Sagittarians. The shame is all yours, to have and to hold.
In a convoluted sort of way, I have the best of both worlds.
I was raised a victim. I know the fear. That fucking sinking dread taking over when you realize it’s going to happen (again) and there’s not a fucking thing you can do about it. The terror paralyzes you. There is no fight, never a fight, just a despondent acquiescence. Obey. Obey. Obey. There is no “no” in your world. And it happens again and again and again and again and again and again. Each time, your shame buries the shards of your self worth deeper and deeper into the silence until there is no longer a you.
I went through a lot of shit when I was a kid. It wasn’t until my husband asked me that question that I realized that I’m no longer a victim. I am no longer powerless. I’m no longer a deer in the headlights. But I get it. I know why victims don’t talk. And hopefully, now you do too.
I paid my dues. They’re paying theirs too.
I’m going to be honest here, and that’s easy because I’m pretty sure nobody will read this and I need to let some things out. My shit is safe here.
I accepted today that I have lost the sister I’ve known all my life. She’s still here physically, but the girl I grew up with, the younger kid sister, my devoted follower, is gone. She’s not coming back. There. I said it. She’s not coming back. Fuck you bad doctors, fuck you bad health care, and fuck you life, but she isn’t coming back. I have no words to describe the grief.
Background: We lived a shit life. We were the poor family that everyone felt sorry for, but we were dirty so those generous souls also kept their distance. I remember my mother’s shocked embarrassment at Thanksgiving when she’d receive a basket full of food from the do-good pitiers. Her dismay was palpable–Through her grudging acceptance, I could feel her white hot anger. But hey, every Thanksgiving we had enough food. What’s a little anger when you have turkey and all the trimmings?
My sister is five years younger. When she was little I thought she was the cutest damn thing. She had blonde straight hair (in contrast to my dark curly crap in the 70’s) and two (count them!) two blue eyes that matched. (another story.)
How cute is this kid?
And she adored me. I was the big sister. I shared my dreams with her. Fantasies of boys who liked me, of being rich, of being somebody who, simply put, wasn’t the object of all that pity. God how I hated that mother fucking, esteem sucking pity. My sister was my biggest fan; hell, she was my only fan.
I’m not sure she ever believed my stories. She shouldn’t have. It doesn’t matter. We shared hope. We were going to survive the ugliest childhood and become “NORMAL” like others.
Long story short: I made it. She didn’t. Too much pedophilia tossed in with a lot of physical abuse, and of course the emotional horseshit that came along for the ride. Topping off the crap, our mom died when my sister was 16. She needed her mom at 16, all teen girls need their moms. My sister never had a chance.
Fast forward a zillion years: I’m doing well. I admit that I’ve had some lucky ass breaks, breaks that have saved me. Oh crap, I do realize how dramatic that sounds, but fuck it, you didn’t live it, you weren’t there. Trust me.
I have a good job. I have a wonderful spouse. I have the best kids in the world. I have everything. I am happy on purpose.
My sister has so much as well: Anxiety. Panic Disorder. Depression. So many physical problems. The past year has brought her a failed serious back surgery that causes her constant pain, two–maybe three strokes that have left her with enough damage to her brain that she can no longer control her emotions. She needs constant help, not as much supervision now, but constant help. Her daughter has not only stepped up to the plate, she filled the plate, washed the plate and put the plate back into the cupboard. Every day. Every single fucking day.
My sister has much improved since I started this piece. She will never be right, but she’s improved.
It’s not fair. Fucking life. It’s not fair and I want to kick whoever it was that said it would be fair right in the ass. Realizing now of course that nobody actually ever told me that life was fair.
Ok, I have this blog site and I’ve had it for years and here it is, glaringly empty, blank nothingness, staring back at me, daring me. What’s the point of having of blog if you’re just going to write “someday?”
Memories of childhood–do we fully understand how one seemingly insignificant moment can change the course of our lives?
My first grade teacher was Mrs. Kristoff. I loved her. She was my first teacher and, coming from a dirt poor family, her sophisticated-lady countenance impressed me to no end. She wore soft pastel sweaters and plaid skirts, and (what are those shoes?) high heels. She was soft-spoken and I sucked in her every word.
We weren’t just poor, we were dirty poor. The kind of poor that the proud poor look down on. I was taught very little at home. In fact, at the age of six, I didn’t know what “colors” were. When Mrs. Kristoff handed out fat crayons, I had no idea what color was what. My desk neighbor, Rick P. , took pity on me and patiently showed me the name of each color. (I don’t mention Rick’s full last name because he also took a big smelly shit in front of me in our barn after that and I don’t want to embarrass him if he’s still alive and runs into this blog.)
Along came Thanksgiving, and with Thanksgiving, holiday arts and crafts. Our class project was a giant turkey made out of construction paper. My job was to paste (yum) feathers onto the turkey. I was apparently too new at art to understand about using too much paste. Mrs. Kristoff gently took my paste and feathers from me and said quietly, “You’ll never be an artist, dear.” I was put into my chair and advised to read.
I have no clue if she really meant it or not. Hell, she may have been kidding even, but that statement cemented itself into my very soul and followed me throughout my adulthood. I wasn’t even aware of it at the time–My feelings hadn’t been hurt. It was a statement that I accepted without emotion or understanding. I loved her, and had no reason to disbelieve anything she said. It would have been the same as if she had said I had curly brown hair. Fact is fact.
I spent my life not drawing. Not coloring. Not painting. There was no mauve or turquoise in my vocabulary. There was green, red, blue. Nothing in between. My catch phrase as an adult was, “These hands are only good for holding cigarettes.” If I had to draw something, it was a pitiful two-stroke attempt. I can’t draw. I’m not an artist you know. My biggest fears came to light when that horrible Pictionary game came out. LOVED watching the game, HATED when it was my turn, as did my game partners.
A few years ago, the DrawSomething game came into popularity. It was an online game created by OMGPop. I was harassed constantly by my son and friends to play the game. Nope, I can’t draw, it would be a waste of time. I finally gave in and started playing. All the phone calls and messages started pouring in. “What the FUCK was that you just drew?” The bad part was, when I looked at the pictures, even I didn’t know what I was trying to draw.
It was so bad that my son and friends quietly stopped playing the game with me. It didn’t matter, I kept tossing out shit pictures to my game partners, constantly trying to show them, “I TOLD YOU I CAN’T FUCKING DRAW!”
My online friend Joy is an artist in Australia. She would send me turns of simple drawings that looked amazing. I loved watching her draws come to life. One time she sent me a drawing of Jimi Hendrix that was so amazing I whined in a message to her, “Oh I wish I had your talent. I can’t draw.”
Her response changed my life. She told me (paraphrasing) that it didn’t take talent to draw. The only thing holding me back from being an artist was my own fat ass attitude. I was blocking any attempts to learn by my negative feelings about drawing.
It was then that I realized who had taught me that I couldn’t draw.
Joy told me to try, just once, to see what I could do. No scribbling, just thoughtful movements with the stylus. I laughed and told her I’d try, knowing I would be proving her wrong in no time.
My next draw with her, I tried. I thought about what I wanted to show. I searched out photos on the internet, and I tried. Much to my own shock, what I drew was not great by any means, but oh my god, you could tell what it was.
At that point I became obsessed with the game. I wanted to learn so badly, I drew and I drew and I drew. The original DrawSomething game was simple–just a few colors and simple brushes. Then they came out with Drawsomething2. More brushes, more colors, and more “ink” time. I became even more obsessed. I would draw for hours, leaving the world behind. This included my husband who would talk to me and we would carry on conversations while I was drawing that I had no recollection of later.
I’ll post some of my drawings that made me happy. I had a LOT of help from artist friends who played the game.
Here are some early ones that made me shriek with happiness:
With DrawSomething2 (later renamed by Zynga to ArtWithFriends), I had a lot more fun and by this time, I only drew. Work meant nothing, family and friends were ignored. Showers were a waste of time. Here’s what I came up with before the damned program died:
I have hundreds, but I’m not a famous artist, you won’t need to see them all.
In fact, that Christmas, my daughter bought me a beginning drawing class and my son surprised me with an art box. Three drawers filled with brushes, watercolor paints, acrylics and oils. (“Now do some real art, Mom.”)
I’ve started off (reluctantly) with watercolor because well, it was what was in the top drawer of the box. My watercolor work isn’t ready for prime time as I can’t seem to get past the first rule of watercolor: Give up trying to control the paint.
I don’t have a conclusion to this writing because, although DrawSomething was discontinued (the second version), I’m trying to learn to paint and draw in real life.
We weren’t expecting another dog. We had Sophie Ray and LucyFur and our hands were full. We accidentally picked up Daisy (Oopsie Daisy).
She’s a German Wirehair and English Pointer cross, at least that’s what we were told.
Our old German Wirehair, Buddy, was a handful of work. His head was as thick and hard as a slab of cement, but oh the personality in that boy. If you weren’t mad as hell at him, you were trying your damnedest to not let him see you laugh at his antics.
German Wirehairs are a lot of dog. They’re energetic, busy, and smart. Too smart. Unfortunately for Buddy, all we knew about dogs was that we loved them. Loving them isn’t enough. You have to learn about dogs. Dogs need to be trained. Buddy trained us.
Daisy’s our second chance to train a busy Wirehair with a giant brain.
Here she is at five months:
I’ve taken a few classes (bless you, Seattle Humane Society)
, read a lot of Patricia McConnell (Bless you, Trisha), Karen Pryor (you know the routine now), and I’ve gotten a lot better at the training side of things. Here’s a picture of Daisy’s response to the “Watch” suggestion:
Maybe you can’t tell, but she jumped up and knocked the camera out of my hand. This tells us two things:
1) You know why I call it the “Watch” suggestion instead of command.
2) I need more training.
3) We need to work on jumping (or to be more precise, *not* jumping).
4) I can’t count.
So now I need to learn how to put in links. It’s irritating that learning some things is so hard for me.
I’m actually ok with Hello world! for the beginning. It should probably just say Hello nobody! as most likely nobody will read this.
My first entry. I’m generally a positive person, not exactly prone to depression. No reason, just my brain gets bored after awhile.
I’m in a lousy mood today though, my ex daughter-in-law’s birthday. A coincidence? No. I miss her so much. I admired her so much. She’s happier without us, but it’s also hard to watch all that budding happiness from down here. I want to be thrilled for her, but I can’t get past my own grief and loss. I’m sure the depth of the grief is directly related to the depth of the loss.
I’m also not too thrilled with double spacing. (See? I was depressed, and then bored myself to another subject.)
Another subject of more importance: Here’s a new picture of what’s happening in my world today, not doggy at all, but I sure love my yard.
There. I did it.
PS: Looks like the double spacing took care of itself.