When she was a young girl, before the insidious abuse began, it was just the 3 of them. Her mama would often make her way into the single bathroom they all shared and look in the mirror beside her then 7 year old daughter and smile. “Do you think we look alike?” she would ask. Daughter grinning back at her pretty mama, “yes!” They would giggle and go about their grooming and silliness before the school bell rang and her pretty mama would head off to work. She was learning at a very young age what being a soft, feminine, sweet little girl was by watching and learning from her very young mama. At 26 years old, she was the most beautiful, kind person in this girl’s life. She loved her with all her heart and she knew her mama did too.
They were essentially growing up together, but she also knew that mama was the adult and she had to follow her rules. Her big brother was only 16 months older than her and he loved them both, but somewhere he began growing up faster than she did. Maybe this is what happens to a young man when there isn’t a daddy around. She loved her big brother. They had fun playing outside, riding bikes and skateboards, tossing the football and playing catch. No one ever told her she couldn’t play like the boys and when his friends came over, they didn’t mind having the little sister tag along, much. She had her own friends too, but being with the boys was fun.
As she got a little older, this eventually started to fade. Either way, she was outgrowing them or they quit liking the baby sister hanging around. This is when that new man came into mama’s life and our lives began to turn upside down. Mama gradually stopped visiting her in the bathroom mirror and she was beginning to look elsewhere for validation and approval. She was turning the corner on adolescence when a young lady desperately needed her mama to keep teaching her about being that soft, feminine, young lady she was emerging into. She was losing her, or was mama losing herself?
Her teenage years were approaching and while other girls seemed to struggle with the normal issues of confidence, self esteem and courage, she continued to spiral down in her own self worth and doubt about her appearances. Boys were the topic amongst all these girls she was getting to know in her junior high days and she was becoming more shy with every passing day. Attention she received embarrassed her and she didn’t quite know what to do about it. She secretly had crushes on this boy and that one, but that was all she knew, how to like them, but not talk to them. She was getting good at hiding.
By the time she was in 8th grade, her family had moved to a new area which meant she had to start a brand new school and make new friends. This was especially difficult for the extra quiet and shy girl she had become. He immediately liked the new girl on the block and by that winter had become her first boyfriend. She had gone from admiring boys from afar to holding hands in public and at school with this assertive young man and she liked it. He was well liked and everyone knew him in this tiny little school. She quickly made a handful of new friends and was no longer angry about being uprooted from the only home she had ever known. This didn’t increase her confidence or boost her self esteem, but it did create an addiction to love and affection that would affect her relationships from there on out.
She learned that being with that special someone no matter the cost, was always better than being alone. This was the pattern she had established at the very young age of 15 when they entered their sophomore year in high school still a couple. What can you possibly know at that age? Was being in a committed, long term relationship normal at their age? Apparently to them it was. He told her often of her beauty and built her up the best he could, but she couldn’t receive his words of her external looks when she was fighting an internal battle for so many years now.
This would go on for years to follow, clear into adulthood. Her inner beauty so lacking in the strength and confidence a father typically instills in his little girl early on. Having an absent bio daddy and an abusive, substitute, narcissistic step monster who began objectifying her at age 14, she just wanted to be invisible and she worked hard to succeed at that. Her mama had long since been able to replace any of the hurtful, demeaning words that humiliated her since she herself was suffering most of the abuse from this monster. Her once, beautiful, spirited, lovely mama was just gone. Deep in the pits of despair she was cast and there she remained until her death.
By the time that young lady was married and a mama with 3 babies of her own, she had attempted to follow the beauty regiment she had learned at such a young age. She often recalled those intimate, special moments buried in her memories she shared with her mama. She recoiled at remembering his disturbing leering and twisted innuendos and once again chose to be invisible, rejecting the advances of her own husband and father of her children. Her head was muddled and certainly fucked up as she thought, what sort of woman doesn’t welcome the compliments of her own husband? Surely there is something horribly wrong with me she thought, but still she couldn’t shake off the shivers that haunted her. Don’t look at me, don’t see me and please, whatever you do, just don’t notice me.
It would be years later, five years post divorce that for the first time in her life, there was a man who did in fact, not only notice her and made her tummy flip, she welcomed his advances and wanted him to indeed see her. After the first 6 months or so his love bombing had hooked her so deeply she couldn’t get enough of his attention and longed for more. At some unknown point in time, after all the confidence and uplifting he had poured into her, she had changed her appearance to the point that he took notice of people noticing her and he loved that. As long as she was by his side, protecting her from other men, she felt safe. For the first time in her life, she thought she had been found and actually loved.
A secure sense of belonging overcame her for the first few years. One day she saw something different looking in the mirror at this indescribable image, she no longer recognized the lady looking back at her. The closer she gazed at the reflection, the more distorted and unfamiliar the features became. She had quietly been slipping away and was reverting back to that young girl, desiring nothing more than to be invisible once again. She had become her beautiful, lost mama after all. Fuck.
The compliments and uplifting expressions they keep tossing at her, are words and verbalized observations of her outward appearance. They haven’t matched her inside disturbance since she was that 7 year old, standing next to her mama, staring in the looking glass. Now she says to them…
As if grieving during the painful process of a loss isn’t enough. She thought she had dug her way down to the delusional bottom of the pile and wait, oh yes, there is another heap to dismantle. She had begun to breathe, even find a little peace now and then as she made her way through those still, sometimes agonizing days. She actually found her smile again.
The stages of grief, she can recite those off the top of her head, but more importantly, she understands them when they hit. “Oh, you again, fuck off”, but she didn’t mean it. Embrace each one. Look it square in the face little one. We are survivors, sure, but really, we are resilient fighters and most of all, important as fuck.
She took her almighty shovel out today and said, “alright crap, let’s just see what other bullshit you have for us today” and with one sturdy plunge, the hunt was on. For fuck sake, she thought she had uncovered this one, but there it was in all its glory, hiding like the coward who put it there. “I see you” she said, “and you can no longer hide from me”. As she fought deliberately to force the pile apart, she felt the all too familiar sting of tears welling up in her eyes. What the fuck now? Haven’t we shed enough of these for all we’ve been through girl? As she thought these words to herself, she remembered what she had learned (again) from her oldest, long time friend in her world, “cry till you’re dry honey”. How the fuck is there anything left?
Ah, it was beginning to make sense to her. Every layer has another story to tell and all the cover up is eroding away to tell you what you need to know love, one small piece at a time. We can’t possibly take the 9 years from the most current abuser, the 18 years from the one before and the 10 years from the original source of childhood where it all began and have it magically be healed, over and done with it. It just doesn’t work like that. We have more work to do and so it continues.
Here we stand, together but alone, digging, sifting and sorting through the debris and rubble we have been left with. Let’s call this here, “experience”. Some would rather happily shove this shit under a great big rock and never look at again. Others, like us girl, will not only take it out from the dark place of which it’s been buried, grab the microscope and start the deep internal examination. Let’s call this here, “analysis”. This part of the process will help us determine the “whys, how comes and what for’s”. All the answers to these inquiries are crucial to why the fuck we do what we do, love who we love, follow and attach to what’s familiar, accept the unacceptable and tolerate the intolerable. Let’s call this here, “lessons”. The question that often arises during this portion is, “why is this happening?” When the better, more affective one would be, “what am I getting out of this, what am I learning?” No one wants to believe that the mounds of bullshit they’re uncovering and discovering is actually useful information for their own growth, but it truly is beneficial to the sometimes excruciating, always imperative, healing path.
What we will find next is becoming like a treasure hunt to learning who she really is, on her own, with no other outside influences controlling her thoughts and emotions, her soul and her body, just her and her alone on this fabulous ride called life. Why then does our princess in the story of her newfound life keep bumping up against more wreckage that can sometimes halt her in the middle of the deserted road? She asks herself this often while she keeps pushing on.
It is in the ashes where beauty remains. Yeah, yeah, she has this expression down cold having had her spirit burned to the ground and torn down, both literally and metaphorically. Each time she has risen, more grateful than the time before, but she has grown weary of them all. Let’s call this here, “strength”. “Diamonds are created under pressure and can cut through glass. A mighty oak grows strong in contrary winds. A palm tree might bend but it won’t break.” She often relates herself to these well defined comparisons and smiles, then wonders for how long she must endure and drudge through the remaining piles. It all comes down to educating your brilliant, sweet, smart, feisty ass girl and so she digs a little deeper into the soil of her soul…
He got it in his mind that women are to be more than submissive, but subservient and assuringly beneath him. The desperate need of his that they worship him as if he were a God. We are easily used, regularly dismissed and always ridiculed as if we possess no value or worth to dane to be in his presence without his permission. The perversity and depravity in that statement feels like a knife twisting in my heart as I groveled to be that worthy girl in his deemed place of honor. Fuck that…
When I was 10, he showed me that same worthlessness and stole my youth with his control by devaluing me just as a professional manipulator behaves. I was being trained up to expect to be treated this way when I got older. The woman I was becoming didn’t matter and I deserved nothing more than what he gave and did for me or to me. Fuck that…
He drilled it into my brain that my thoughts were insignificant, my needs were as well. No one wanted to hear about what I wanted or how I felt about anything at all. Being objectified began when I started to “develop” into that blossoming young teenager. How does a grown man become this way? I couldn’t think in terms such as this when I was a mere teen. From those days forward my attitude was only, Fuck that…
I’ve learned to escape my body. To float up to the ceiling where I feel safely detached from whatever takes place in the moment happening below. I practice wading in the air as if I were swimming along a soothing stretch of the lake. From here I watch and wait and when everything begins to fade away and it’s safe to return to my body, I snuggle back in. Relieved once again, I can work to get myself to drift off to sleep where I can dream of a life that is calm and beautiful, free of the anxiety that wakes me most nights and even keeps me from that night’s sleep. I pray for freedom…
After years of this way of existence, I’ve been coming back to my body, slowly allowing myself to feel things I never permitted myself to when it was a dangerous place to be. Never had I imagined the destruction of detaching from my very own self. It was all I knew. It’s what I practiced for survival. It’s what kept me going. I prayed harder for freedom…
By retreating inside my own mind and hiding behind my fears of these monstrous sized men, I had developed a case of dissociation for my self protection. It became my only source of a coping mechanism that gave me the illusion of being bigger than those who were hell bent on creating my inferior self in order to feed their self created superior selves. When I could detach so completely from the situation, I became invincible as I checked out of the world for the terrifying moment I needed to escape from to be safe. Freedom was what I craved…
The demons are as real as the dragons I battle. Maybe things will be better in another life, as if I have more than one. What am I doing, still and again? Why am intent to suffer so? I am on a treasure hunt to find the glory in my story. It’s time…
There came a day when I awoke after a decent night’s sleep. One where anxiety didn’t shoot me out of bed and my skin. This same night I hadn’t dreamed of my body floating up to the street light that sent a glow on the picture below as I often do. Instead, I was lying there, the light trickling in, listening to the hummingbirds feeding outside my window as Mr. Squirrel was playing like a monkey jumping from branch to branch and Mr. Monty the Rooster began his morning wake up call and it occurred to me… today is the day I believe I became sick of trying to make sense out of nonsense, so I just stopped. I truly felt more free. Suddenly, smiling to myself, I was reminded of the fable…
“The Scorpion and the Frog” A scorpion, which cannot swim, asks a frog to carry it across a river on the frog’s back. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung by the scorpion, but the scorpion argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung him despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it, it’s in my nature”.
Feeling like her skin has been peeled back as the sun bakes down on her exposed flesh. She is burning from stripping the layers of denial off, leaving her with the searing pain of the truth. She relives every detailed moment of each incident as if it were happening right here, right now. She tries to outrun them, but she can’t escape the memories. Her dreams hold her captive and startle her awake at times, bringing her anxiety back until she can awaken enough to remember where she is and that she is safe in her space. She bolts out of bed planting her feet on the ground, gasping for a breath, just one will do, but it takes many minutes to fully inhale and exhale.
They never understood their breakups, the discards, and this time, they don’t realize how the trauma has bonded her so tightly and why she cannot just break free. Neither does she, but fuck, she tries hard to sever it, all of it. Those ordinary people are living a common, vanilla, flavored life. She is tormented by the years of the secret lifestyle suppressed by his every move, his very nature, his discipline, corrections and punishments and now she will say it out loud… his abuse. Her body has been keeping score with faint marks still remaining upon her soft flesh while the flashbacks in her thoughts trigger her. Hyper vigilance has become part of her everyday life. Her mind kept tabs that were deeply engrained, creating new pathways that would continue far past their innumerable separations, including their last, their final.
In their world, she wasn’t initially picked out of a lineup for her soul to be crushed, but that was what took place over a slow, calculated period of time. She was carefully selected by him because of her strength and confidence she exhumed. She would make an excellent supply source. He was drawn to that. She would be his. His clay to mold, his property to own, his body to create and modify. He wanted what she had for his very own undoing. It all went into the choosing process. She would become a kept woman and that would require a complete breakdown of her human spirit she once possessed in order for him to transform her into the little pet toy he wanted her to be, the one he needed her to become.
She feels the tightening of the straps that hold her tightly and the strike of the cane upon her tearing, searing flesh. The stings ignite her fresh wounds, feeling as if they’re on fire. Another one follows and she thinks the last will never come, but then he tells her to count them down. Sobbing, she is finally allowed to drag her snot filled nose across the tear stained sheets, then abruptly everything just stops. There are no more sounds. His voice went quiet. Faint footsteps fading away is the only sound she hears over her own shallow, deep breathing.
The room went deadly quiet as he disappeared for a moment, emerging again with a bottle of soothing gel. At last he released the ties that bound her, literally, and she collapsed across the bed, shaking, trying to catch her breath, but all she knows is the relief of being free, for now. The hyperventilating subsided, but she can’t stop shivering. Then suddenly she feels him lying behind her, covering her with a warm blanket. He holds her tightly in his arms at last, her limp body whimpering in agony as he whispers softly in her ear, “good girl, suffering so beautifully for me. You know this makes you even better for me, right? That makes me so happy.” Her brain can’t engage or comprehend anything, only the warmth of him. She easily focuses on her broken, aching body and his words. The echoes of them run across her mind, jumbled and unclear, yet all she can do is sob and nod as he pulls her closer to him, stroking her hair, kissing her neck, “shhh, good girl.” Sleep now little one. Exhausted, she passes out.
She awakens what seemed like hours later. It was dark outside and everything was silent and eerie in the cold room where he tucked her in after, after… and then she remembered her punishment he had administered only an hour before. The sting was intense as she dragged herself up from the bed. She took her aching self down the hall where she knew she would find him, sitting at the computer, waiting for her arrival. “Hi baby girl, your’re awake”. Her eyes burning, her voice barely above a whisper, she nodded and he motioned for her to come closer. As she did, he pulled her to his lap, wrapped his arms around her and kissed her gently as he whispered his famous words, “it’s over, it’s done, it’s in the past”. She was quietly weeping and melted into him. This wasn’t the first time nor would it be the last…
His depravity haunts her still and she tries to outrun the affects, the visuals, the hauntings of what her life once was, but she always catches up and finds herself waiting there. Right where she left herself. Fuck, You again?
She was his kept little girl, as he addressed her as, his. The reality was, she was a grown woman with severe daddy issues and the coercion he was inflicting upon her, the brainwashing and gas lighting had convinced her that all little girls receive this kind of “love and attention” when a daddy truly loves and desires them. She didn’t have a daddy of her own and she’d been abused for so long by her step monster, how could she possibly know any different? She believed him. She trusted him.
She’d lay there at night, a tear rolling down her cheek asking herself questions. Questions she didn’t have the answers for and he’d pull her close to him, whispering, “shh, sleep now baby girl. Everything’s alright.” but it never was.
Why did this please him so? Who was he? What was happening? How did she get to this place? Where had she gone? The amazing power of denial and the complete destruction of control. TPE a total mindfuck…
When did I let cynicism invade my heart? When the emotional upheaval is in full force, does the bottom need to fall out or do I crawl up from the ashes? There’s a heaviness that accompanies heartache. My head and heart are in this non amicable long distance relationship where neither can agree upon things very often. My head can be like, “yeah, you Dbag, I’m done being hurt by you. I’m glad you’re gone. You did nothing more than suck me dry of everything from my soul, leaving my flesh raw, my heart shredded and my spirit trampled. So fuck you and fuck your… everything, asshole. You don’t want me? Fine, I’ll find someone who does”, screams my broken little girl from deep inside. Really I know I’m shouting out to my bio dad, where the core root of my hurts and hang ups live, but I have to start from my now and move my way backwards and you, present time folks, are the lucky recipients who will suffer my wrath.
Then my soft, forgiving heart chimes in louder with empathy, “but he’s sick and damaged, we can love him through it, all of it, wait and see. Wait some more, keep being patient, he’ll see, his heart will engage with ours,” but it never does. “Be more for him, he needs more from you girl. I know he isn’t capable of being what you need, but it’ll be alright, stick with him, it’ll fall into place. I know it’s been years of accepting his small crumbs, but you can live off of those.” That’s the part of my bleeding heart that yearns to connect with that someone who will fill that void. I’m an empty vessel by now. One that’s been giving all and receiving very little in return. I have a God sized hole in my breaking heart that truly only God can fill, not another human and certainly not some man.
It’s the unfinished business that stings the most. The loose ends if you will. The unspoken, unresolved, looming questions that desire and deserve to be answered to my satisfaction. I suppose this all began when my bio dad “left me” at the age of 2. His departure would later set the stage for my behavior in all my interactions with every male who walked into my life and then out again, leaving me to feel the sting of his absence all over again. I’ve asked him the questions and silence was on the other end of the answer as he turned and stayed away. We call this feeling, abandonment. The emotions that surround it can range from unworthy, unwanted, undesirable, unimportant, unloveable, discarded, disposable, dissatisfying, disobedient, disdain. I’ve experienced waves of all of these negative thoughts about myself. Of course, they would be reinforced for my lifetime by the partners chosen to bring me more of the same and the familiar. Like a magnet, I drew them in. I’ve created this habitual recognition.
Abandonment has convinced me that, “everyone I love leaves”. As my bio dad was replaced one day by a narcissistic asshole to say the least, slowly over time, mom began abandoning me, emotionally. His hideous displays of abuse over her began spilling over onto me. I wished he would leave, but that was never granted. I was trapped, listening to the lies spouting from his vulgar mouth while I was getting crafty at sidestepping his creepy advances. I blamed her for not protecting me. I drew mentally closer to a dad who was gone. I chased after him for the love, attention and time I craved, but he never rescued me from the hell I was trying to survive. I didn’t blame him. I loved him. Needed him. I silently pleaded. I waited. I hoped. He proved me right about leaving.
I’m such a copy cat and a fraud. I ignored the symptoms for years. In the beginning he lured me in with his sweet talk, his stories of feeling unloved by his own mother, the alcoholic abuse from his own father and the betrayals from his 2 significant relationships. Being the sought after empath I am, I bought every word. My heart cried for him and I would show him how lovable he is. He didn’t just need my understanding and support, he required it to breathe. Fuck. I wasn’t just repeating the same patterns I witnessed between mom and the step monster, I was living them and I was engaging in them, with him. It sickens me to have claimed “I would never live life like her!” and yet, there I was duplicating her life, abused, ridiculed, belittled, objectified and convinced I would never survive on my own as he discarded me like last night’s leftovers time over time.
She caught her breath, every time he spoke to her. Like a predator after his prey, he’d hover around for a few moments, closer he’d move near where she was before he made his way to exit the door. This became his dance he perfected over time. Toss a hook out and see if she’d bite. He set the stage and she was his clueless, leading actress. Innocent and demure, she wasn’t used to this sort of attention, not really. She deflected it at first. Falling back into her old style of safety, she tried to be invisible. Why was he paying any mind to her? She’s long since downplayed her outer beauty to match her painful insides. What could he want with her now, ordinary self she was portraying? She told her friend she wished he’d look at her, give her those enticing words, those stolen glances, that masculine energy that seemed to be pulling her into his vortex. Jokingly she said to her friend once again, come on… but instead she wanted to believe his words and so began what would be her misery of life.
She was so raw and vulnerable from her existence that was always in session and recently turned upside down, that some of the nuances were refreshing and pulling her. in. It was as if he was attuned to her inner most thoughts, could smell her fear, was feeding off her sadness and was going to fix her. Like a lion ready to pounce, he set it up perfectly, calculating his every move. She never saw it coming.
But he was clever. He knew exactly when to throw her a bone and say the right things to make her trust and believe that he was interested in her, even cared about her well being. He gave her glimmers of hope. He showed her a man she had never known before. He quickly learned how to maneuver around her feelings and navigate the ways around her heart. He’d spout out promises and things to make her light up just to keep her on a leash. He was very smart when it came to manipulation, control and getting what he wanted, no matter the cost. Once he had her in his clutches, his plan to devour her whole was put into motion. The confusion invaded her so precisely as he anticipated it would, that she was oblivious to what was happening. It was so insidious and her life as she knew it was forever changing.
Her heart still races as she desperately tries to drift off to sleep, but instead her mind wants to retrace all her steps that she had walked into every trap. How blind she must’ve been to trust him as he dangled a piece of sweet nectar just slightly out reach, but low enough to keep her grasping for it over and over again. His savage, beastly desires drove him to those torturous, mind fuck games that only he had the rule book for.
He silently laughed as he watched her squirm for relief while she begged for an ounce of affection or a morsel of love. She tosses and turns as the nights turn into months. She feverishly works to reconcile in her own twisted mind, how such a human could exist and worse, keep her under his spell for so many years.
She writes another sad story of her victim role. The one of lies and deception where she was the star attraction and he, the daemonic villain. At last, exhaustion overtakes her and she passes out long enough to wake up and start the cruel cycle over again.
Determined to uncover the answers to questions she’ll never have, but that haunt her still. She searches for more clues, educating herself further, depriving herself of her basic needs. She has become a detective in her own murder case. The one where she is the missing person and the key suspect is at large, living as if, all the while, searching out his next unsuspecting victim for his endless need of fuel supply.
One day she’ll come out of the dense fog and will rise above it all. One day she’ll find the forgiveness to unshackle herself from her own death sentence. One day the sweet taste of freedom will replace the bitterness that swells up her throat. One day the obsession will dissipate and her breath will resume to its normal rhythm. One day this nightmare will come to an end and she will awaken to find herself returned safely to the ground where her feet have been replanted and there is beauty all around…
The daylight woke her and she jolted straight up in the strange bed. For a second she wondered where she was. She began recalling the night before, replaying the script in her scattered mind, the silent argument, an uprooting of the life she knew and a what seemed like an endless night of collecting her belongings. She needed coffee. She needed explanations, but most of all, she needed him. Why?
Anger began washing over her, wanting to make friends with her now. It was more like a pact really. How else can we assure one another to never go through this ever again. We couldn’t. She knew the game. Hell, she was one of the star players and she was an expert in it. She couldn’t comprehend the situation, but had to do something to distract herself. Her resolution, get her ass to the gym. There she can pick up some heavy shit and drop it back down, just to keep her sanity. Kind of an irony now. This would become her routine, working out alongside her friend. Her friend whom became her trainer, then became her therapist while her therapist became obsolete.
Days passed and for two straight weeks, he showed up there in her personal space. Coincidentally, knowing she would be there, lifting, clearing her mind, she didn’t think so. He said not a word to her, only taunting her, desperately trying to rattle her with his presence as if to remind her of their sacred, cyclical dance. It took all her strength to maintain control of her power. She fought back the internal force. He’d hurt her for the last time. Fuck him.
God had been showing up in her life a lot more, revealing Himself to her, giving her clarity with every passing day. He promised her salvation and protection like she never felt before. As days turned into weeks and eventually months, she began talking, revealing the secrets she had kept hidden. She was speaking out loud for the first time in 8 1/2 years to her friend, the trainer and the therapist. At first she was ashamed and timid, but she was feeling safe with her. The more she shared, the lighter her heart was becoming. To her surprise, what was coming back to her was a similar story as her friend also spoke about her private life she’d been leading too. Their bond strengthened and they were inseparable for the months that followed.
For all those years she was crumbling while he whittled away at her sweet, once light hearted spirit, she couldn’t leave. There had been glimmers of hope, small doses. Signs that maybe he did love her, enough to keep her there. She had to stay with her broken pieces, no matter how depleted, confused, abandoned and abused she was.
Just admitting the truth was a huge first step. With the support of her dear old friend, she had a new found hope. Now was her chance. She had to begin collecting her scattered, broken parts she had left along the way, but how? She began to pray, everyday and for the second time in her life, she didn’t feel so all alone.
There’s a reason we sink before we rise up. An anchor only works when it hits the bottom…