Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And so... the Honesty Begins Again

I used to post every day in another blog, which I eventually killed.  It got so I couldn't write.  I blamed it on stage fright, because I had invited family members to read.  By family, I mean my son, mother and sister.  I truly thought it wouldn't bother me, but when the writing stopped, that was the only reason I could figure out.  Ha.  Just like me to blame the family - I blamed the family for a lot of things over the years.  Family = the 'go to' blame factor. 

But.  As in a big BUT.  As I tried to write, I would think of how my family would take it, and I couldn't write.  To fill in the back story for my non-family readers on certain issues would require writing about things that we/family definitely didn't talk about in person. 

A son and 2 brothers are dead.  My father may as well be dead.  I don't even remember how long it's been since I've talked or seen him.  My son might remember, because I have a vague memory of us driving down the road, seeing my parent's vehicle on the road, and I remembered it was the day they were to move out of town.  I had given my father an ultimatum months before - either get family counseling (for me, my siblings, mom, and him) or my son and I could not be a part of his life ever again.  I vaguely remember telling my son that we wouldn't be seeing grandpa and grandma anymore OR something along the lines of Grandpa choosing not to have his family around him and why.  I seem to remember him saying that it was okay because his grandpa didn't deserve to see us.  Out of the mouth of babes. 

And see?  This is why I quit writing.  In order for my NON-family readers to understand why I haven't spoken to my father for over 20? years, I'd have to tell the story of how he molested me and why I told my young son about the abuse issues in our family.  I knew I'd get a bunch of emails questioning the wisdom of telling a 9-10 year old child.  There was a time when I cared about educating anyone and everyone about abuse, and I didn't mind using my own story to elaborate, but after years of dealing with it via counseling, working in the field, and professional trainings, I got DONE with my own issues and put it to rest as far as the fighting the good fight against childhood sexual abuse was concerned.

I understood that my mother was stuck, as many woman back then were - having never worked outside of the home for a paycheck, dependent on him for all her adult life.  I never thought she knew about it.  I never blamed her.

My sister quit speaking to me at some point years ago, because the man she was seeing, the man she allowed in her 3 small daughter's lives ... his children were in my support groups.  Support groups for children because of abuse issues in their lives.  My co-workers and I knew what we knew; we were considered the "experts" in our area at the time.  I had to figure out a way to tell my sister, without breaking the children's (the clients) confidentiality.  There were staff meetings galore, while we tried to figure out what to do to protect my nieces, and keep my job.  Back then confidentiality was everything.  It is why we were so successful at getting the clients to tell us the truth - they trusted us.

When I tried to talk to my sister about it, to warn her...she already knew. 


I knew the script for talking to a mother whose children might be or were at risk.  I didn't have the script for talking to a mother who already knew.  I also knew that she was most likely a victim of my father too, but she didn't think so (at that time), and to this day, we have a running joke about how I think she needs counseling and she thinks she doesn't. 

At one point, my son was going thru a very bad time, and I was swept into it, partly at his request, and partly because I am easy to talk to.  It used to be my job and I was trained how to listen and how to help people get their feelings out in a healthy way.  I wrote a post about his situation, how it affected me, and he said it was very hurtful towards his new girlfriend.  I was horrified at myself for hurting her, because that hadn't been my intent.

And see?  This is why I quit writing.  In order for my readers to understand, I would have had to provide more details and dis-respect his privacy, despite him telling me I could write anything I wanted.  I re-read what I had written that offended him so, and I honestly could not see how it hurt them.  Sometimes, the truth hurts.  If anything, the vagueness of the post irritated me, because I had to talk in circles in order to get my point across about how hurt I was, without giving out more private details.  Talking TO him hadn't helped, so I took it out in writing, which has always helped me before.  Get it out of my head, on paper, and I could move on without it swirling around in my brain, making me crazy.

I realize now, that he simply didn't have the ability to deal, nor did he have the skills.  My "getting healthy" came too late for him - he didn't learn the coping skills I had learned too late in life.  I also realized that perhaps he'd taken it personally because … he should have taken it personally.   He knew the scoop.  He had said some unforgivable things to me, and of all the people for me not to be able to communicate with, to not be able to solve our problems … to have to keep all my feelings to myself in order to keep him in my life… all the education and training in the world didn't seem to work with the most important person in my life.  For me to move on without having the problem solved on my end was 100% against my nature.  I was living a lie again, having to pretend I was okay when I wasn't.   I had to stuff it in order to have a relationship with him.

In return for stuffing all the secrets, from childhood to maturity-hood, I raged on the outside and tried to control everything else to the nth degree, for a good majority of my early adulthood.  I was 32 when I started dealing with the abuse issues.  I had been in counseling for years, trying to figure out what was wrong with ME.  I blamed so much on myself, yet I KNEW better - I just couldn't make it mesh with me being the only bad guy in the family.  I was the bad guy cause I had told the secrets.

And see?  That is why I quit writing.  All my life, I had stuffed the abuse, in order to continue having a family.  I stuffed the emotional and physical abuse in my marriages in order to stay married.  And despite all my hard work over the years, suddenly I had to stuff shit down my throat in order to keep a relationship with the most important person in my life.  So much for stopping the cycle of abuse.

I had worked for an agency advocating against child abuse for 8 years, heart and soul, and I was very good at it.  I could not mesh the accolades I received from my work, but my family not respecting my knowledge and my DUTY to protect children. Not only the moral duty, but I would be fired for not reporting suspected abuse.  In the case of my sister and me - it was a heart-wrenching quandary, so I accepted the silence between us, in order to keep my job and not have to report her.  The only way I could 'prove' to her about her man... I would have had to take the 3 inch thick, confidential file out of the office - the file that included every police charge, every court incident, everything that his children had said in the groups.  I couldn't mesh my duty to keep the victim's confidentiality with the need to PROVE to my sister that I wasn't lying.

I believe firmly, that telling the big bad secret of my childhood sexual abuse is the only way for the cycle to stop.  Keeping secrets allow the abuse to continue, because there are no consequences for the abuser.  I was not ashamed to tell my story - I told it many times in public forums, and made people cry, and gave people courage to finally tell their own stories of being abused.  More money was donated to the agency because I'd tell my story.  I couldn't understand why everybody else liked me, respected my knowledge and skills, but my family didn't.  Instead of sticking around to solve things, they either disappeared or threatened to.  Arguing and disagreeing would have been fine.  Instead, our history was to make me the bad guy, leave my life, or threaten to leave my life. 

And see?  This is why I quit writing.  There are so many big holes in my life, and for me to be real, and truthful in my writing, sometimes I'd have to write about the black holes of my past in order to make sense of the present.  I'd have to risk hurting someone.  My family was now reading and I did not want to dredge up what was now the distant past, and some of them would be hearing my story for the first time since I confronted my dad all those years ago.  Because my blog is linked to my Facebook, there might be relatives reading who still have relationships with my father.  Even though I felt very, very done with it, it's STILL a part of my life, an open book part of my life, and until I invited family to read my blog, I didn't realize the impact of the family knowing EVERYTHING - the way I'd always been with all my friends, co-workers, boyfriends, clients, etc.  

I had chosen to live an open life without the big, bad secret in order to stop the cycle for years.  I hadn't be able to live that way without cutting some people out, and suddenly I was letting them back in, and I didn't think it mattered cause I was "done" with those issues.

I had moved on and bought a flower shop.  I had started dating good men, and knowing ahead of time whether they were good or not, trusting my instincts.  Started having fun, sure in my healing and not wanting anything to do with "fixing" anyone of the male gender, nor was I afraid of being alone or lonely.  I was happy, for the first time in my life.  Happy, contented, and at peace. 

Hello Multiple Sclerosis.  But that's another story.

And see?  This is why I quit writing.  I now had MS and I NEEDED my family because I was scared, and I now peed my pants, and fell down, and wobbled alot and couldn't remember things.   For me to dredge up the past in any way in my blog, which they were now reading - what if I said the wrong thing, and they disappeared again?  I didn't have the energy for abuse issues, for helping others, for being there for them if something came up for them because they knew my truth - I had been done with it, and suddenly I had something else to deal with - just plain walking straight was a chore.  Also, the loss of control over my body triggered the loss of control I had as a child and a teenager, being molested.  I wasn't so done after all, but I knew it was okay.  It is normal for it to be triggered in unexpected ways, probably for the rest of my life.  The issue part of it... I feel confident that I've healed the majority of it, but there will always be reminders of how it affected me. It is part of who I am, and for me not to be able to talk about it... makes me mentally ill again.

In order to fill in the holes in my life that happens to come up when I write... I have to write without fear.  I have to write in order to stay healthy mentally... if my voice gets silenced again about the abuse... I will have been a fraud, and the hell that I went thru will all be for nothing.

This stuff was so done for me... until it started acting and feeling like a secret again.  In my very own blog, I couldn't be 100% open about whatever came up that wanted to be written about cause family was reading now.

So the bottom line, dear Mom, Sister and Son, is this.  If I'm worried about how something I write will impact you, I will let you read it first, and we can discuss.  If I've said something in an offensive way, we will work together to re-word it without it losing my truth.  I can only believe this will be a good thing… getting to know each other and communicating more.  If I've written something and I haven't talked to you ahead of time, then it means that I've written it without realizing it might have a negative impact on anyone - I've NOT done it with the intent to hurt.  I don't operate that way - I am an open book and a good one, I might add.  I ask that you realize that MS affects me cognitively, and I sometimes don't put 2 plus 2 together, or connect the dots.  Sometimes I can't see the forest because of the trees.  If you are impacted in a negative or confused way, it becomes YOUR issue, and YOUR responsibility to call me up, and SAY so.  I will take the post down immediately, and then we will talk ourselves to an understanding, and I will take care of the post accordingly, based on what we agree on.  Again, I can't help but think that it will be a good thing… getting to know each other and communicating.  My son's done it before, and I count it as a HUGE plus that he was able to talk to me rather than hold it against me and it coming out some other way.  I disagreed with him, but I understood his point and I took the pictures of him off Facebook.  We were grown-ups together.  That will be what I expect from my friends, family and readers.   

Best regards,


  1. This letter still works for me. Keep posting, keep writing, write freely as far as I am concerned. You are completely and totally entitled to write what you want, your feelings, your thoughts, your whatever. Just do it. I'll always love you. I respect you. I may not always agree with you but.. that's what sisters are for!!

  2. I agree with Theresa on this. I am proud of you in many ways and love you. from MOM

  3. Thanks. Son needs to weigh in...

  4. Good for you that you have trhe knowlege to post this and the courage to deal with it. I was molested by the "uncle" I was named after, my father's best friend. It wasn't 'til my father passed away when I was 49 that I told anyone and it happened to be my husband who triggered my outburst. I have since told Dale because a TV announcement triggered it, my oldest brother because he reminded me I was named after uncle Jesse and a few others. A one time incident has colored my whole life and the way I have made decisions in my life. You go girl!!! Jessie
    I don't understand the workings of posting on your writings so I will be....

  5. Thank you Laurie. Even 25+ years ago, you helped me with your honesty. I can still remember when and where. Anyways, your words helped me understand Dan better, I still know what he did to me was wrong (physical abuse) but I am able to forgive and that helps Heather. I know it's been a long time but bI loved the person I met long ago and still love you. You're blogs are wonderful and please don't stop. You are helping people still. Love, Nina


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