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Ask the Band: Grieving after abuse.

Dear Band,
“I was sexually abused as a child from age 5 to 8 by my babysitter’s son who was 10 yrs older than me. I didn’t tell anyone until I was 10 and blocked the bulk of it out until college. I just found out that the babysitter passed away earlier this week. I don’t feel anything about her passing, I am sorry for her daughter and all of her grandkids. But there’s really nothing there. Am I wrong for feeling like this? I do believe I tried to tell her during it all happening.”
                                                                

 

Don’t Ask Anymore

We are enjoying a day off. It’s Easter weekend. Reflecting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He is cutting up vegetables. He cuts himself and is bleeding everywhere.

He can’t even let Jesus Christ take center stage.

He needs all the damn attention!

Why does he think his needs are more important than mine?

Now, I need to help him feel more comfortable.

Constantly complying. I am not a part of the equation. I have been SPEAKING for years, repeating myself constantly. I don’t ask anymore. I don’t ask for things. I don’t ask for affection. I am living in limbo. Boundless. Floating.

I am invisible.

don't ask abuse marriage

I need to be released from this responsibility that I’ve been carrying for too long.

For the last eight years we’ve drifted apart, each of our roles were extremely different from the others.

I was primary care taker of the baby, he just worked to not be in pain. He was in and out of doctor’s offices, and in bed most of the time he was home.

He was cold to me. He couldn’t help it. I know.

To me, he had it easy: just relax, lay in bed, watch TV, take medicine, have another useless steroid injection.

Umm… when do I get the debilitating disease so I can sit on my ass all fucking day?  I feel trapped, imprisoned.

I had grand expectations that he would complete me, complete my life and it would be this grand ball with dances and tea parties. Our roles are still tragically different, neither supporting one another, neither of us need each other. We are in different places, both have different goals.

We are in the same room, breathe the same air but we’re worlds apart.

The lack of trust and respect – it’s killing us. I cannot trust that he’ll be there. That he’s ALL IN. We’ve been having some good months lately… but soon, that chronic pain will take him and paralyze him again.

That anxiety keeps me in the crazy.

And… so here’s the state of our union. I’ve become accustomed to not including him in my day. He’s had so many limitations, so many special needs. He’s never been able to engage, so I forget that he’s there sometimes.

Somewhere between the chronic pain, taking days off for doctor appointments, disappointments, missed opportunities, we disappeared. I stopped trying to make the structure we live in a home. He was too busy or too sick to care. He didn’t want me. I got used to that.

I became hard, and cold. I worked so hard to leave my father’s house only to end up exactly where I started. I try. He tries. We both feel the unbecoming of us though. It was a slow fade to black.

I’ve veered on a divergent path and, if I’m being honest, I don’t care if he follows or goes in the opposite direction.

How the fuck did I get here?!

I didn’t say no when I was victimized as a child. It happened on more than one occasion. He made me feel special and important.

Years later, I realized I was just his prey among many.

My brain started to split. There was the good me and the bad me.

Then I started cutting to feel something. ANYTHING. Then I would only feel anger, resentment, bitterness, shame.

Then I would drink myself to oblivion to be numb again.

And round and round we go….

I watched my father beat up my mother countless times. I was powerless. The only thing I could do was disconnect. Detach from the situation, go off in my imaginary world.

These days, the only real way I can relate to men is if they are anonymous, objectified, and made common.

Maybe if (they or) I become more anonymous, objectified, common, I don’t have to engage. I can pay to play. I can pay to heal in a way. I can acquit myself of the emotional debt.

I would have room for… selfishness.

The Squirt Bottle

Unable to have children of our own, my then-husband and I had the opportunity to have a foster-to-adopt situation with a precious little girl.

Just before her adoption, we were asked to also foster her little sister, who was about to be born.

I was hesitant. I didn’t want to take on a child who had a high chance of returning to her birth parents. But I couldn’t let my little girl’s sister go to strangers, so we said yes.

As time passed, the birth parents weren’t doing their part, and I felt more and more like she was my baby, and I would have her forever.

I should have been happy. I had everything I’d ever wanted!

The money the state paid us to take care of foster children made it possible for me to be home with those two pretty little girls all day. I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. And now I had not one, but two children to take care of! The girls were happy, and the best sound in the world was their laughter as they played together.

glitter on woman eye mommy wants vodka

I wish I could say my husband felt the same way.

He was resentful of that baby as soon as she entered our home.

He hated all the time I was spending with her, instead of him.

He was jealous.

Of an infant.

This one particular night breaks my heart. I wish I could go back and change things, but he had trained me for years not to question him. Fear of his anger kept me frozen.

The baby had learned to stand. She was so proud of herself! There was no stopping her now!

From the time she was a newborn, she had always hated going to sleep, and getting her to settle down for bed was a long, drawn-out process. But with her newly developed skill of standing, it became much worse. I would lay her down, she would stand up. I would put her down again, she would stand right back up.

One night, he had enough. “I”ll make her learn she has to lay down when it’s bedtime,” he said.

He came into the girls’ bedroom with me when I put her to bed.

I laid her down in her crib, telling her goodnight, same as I always did. She stood up, and he sprayed her right in the face with the water bottle we used on the cats when they were doing something wrong. I was horrified!

But what was I supposed to do? He was my husband, and I was afraid to question him.

The battle of wills between a man in his 40’s and a less-than-year-old baby went on for a while. I would lay her down, she would stand up, he would spray her in the face.

Finally, he pushed me too far. She was soaking wet, dripping on her sheets. I knew even if she did go to sleep, she would end up getting sick from trying to sleep in her wet clothes and bed. I took a chance and said, “That’s enough!”

Amazingly, he walked out the door without saying a word.

I took her out of her bed, pulled her wet clothes off of her, dried her with her little hooded towel, then put clean, dry pajamas on her. Then I changed the bedding in her crib and started the bedtime process again.

When I walked out of the bedroom, she was back to standing in the crib. I walked out to the living room where he was watching TV. I looked him dead in the eye and said, “Your way didn’t work, and you’re never doing that again.”

He didn’t argue, and he never tried that stunt again.

I think he figured out that there was only so far he could push me when it came to the children.

He could belittle me and mistreat me all he wanted, but don’t mess with the Mama Grizzly Bear.

Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

So here I am, not yet 35, and wading into the nastiness of my second marriage falling apart.

I guess I could say that I got married the second time because it seemed worth betting that the first time was due to *him…” so a different guy could fix that, right?

But the problem – if you want to call it a problem – is almost certainly me.

My mom said it brilliantly in her recent email to me:

I guess it’s truth out time, and I’m about to be a bad mom.

Truth – Dad wanted to hogtie you and send you to Tijuana before you married Steve*, but I talked him out of it. He was really upset, but I thought he had Steve pegged wrong.

Truth – after living with Steve for two months, I agreed with your father. I wanted to bitch-slap Steve so hard his head would fall off.

Or worse.

Truth – he lied to you about stuff (mostly little things), but I never said a word because I felt it wasn’t my place. But one of those lies cost you 5,000 dollars. You have no idea how furious I was or how much I kicked myself.

I’m sorry.

This really isn’t the time to be landing this stuff on you, but Dad and I both are feeling very responsible for our little girl getting hurt (again) when maybe if we had just opened our mouths, we could have prevented all this. Of course, to be realistic, it may not have made any difference, but these thoughts cross your mind when you’re a parent.

We both agreed when you were little that whoever married you would have to be one hell of a special kind of guy. (In Dad’s words, “God help him”). But I always pictured you either a) single, and blazing through the world in a cloud of glory or, b) married to a guy who was your equal – smart, confident, strong-willed, motivated and out to make his mark on the universe, but at home would have to know just when to push and when not. NOT easy to find!

However this turns out, we’ll always be here – doors and arms open. Remember that. And don’t worry, next time, we’ll speak our piece – welcome or not – and hogtie if necessary!

By the way, your brother wants to kick Steve’s butt for hurting his sister. That’s his way of saying he’s there for you, too. And if you want me there, just call. I can grab a flight and work be hanged! I love you very much – we all do.

Mom

The beautiful part is that they said almost the same thing after my first divorce, although she left out the part about how she always pictured me single.

fool me twice

That would have given me a lot of strength, I think.

I spent my whole life thinking that I was a failure if I wasn’t married – or conversely, that being able to “get guys” to want to commit to me was some kind of major success. I think having a best friend for most of my life who was openly jealous of my relationships probably didn’t help.

But, hey Mom – THIS time I was obviously very hesitant about getting married, and I ASKED you all to tell me if you had any hesitations!

And good grief, Dad, why couldn’t you grow a pair? You knew Steve best, and if you’d said it was a bad idea, wild horses couldn’t have gotten me down that aisle.

Something tells me, though, that I’m not the only person here who bought into this assumption that women simply “should” get married; that getting married is always a victory, even if your (first) husband is half-jokingly gloating that “someone needs to get [you] under control”.

(He did, and so I compensated for that the next time by marrying someone who wanted ME to be responsible for everything. And I was, but it cost me everything I wanted to do for myself!)

I feel like I’m waking up.

Men attacked me when I was a child, so I spent all of my teens obsessed with them, but avoiding any actual contact with them; then I got married as soon as I could; then, divorced and terrified of single motherhood, I got married again as soon as I could; and now here I am fighting my way free again.

It’s been a day and a half since he moved out (temporarily, because things turned violent, though that wasn’t the pattern or anything – but can I add that having the ability to leave immediately if someone breaks that rule with me is something it turns out I REALLY value?), and I’m not in any way looking forward to the next steps, but I do feel like I can see a clear path for the first time in a long while.

Thanks, Mom.

You may have been a little (lot) late, but that helped a lot!

(And you can bet your hiney that when MY little girl wants to get married, I’m making her a laundry list of every reason in the world I can think of not to – if she still does, great, I’ll support her; but she deserves to know what I really think. I guess sometimes the hardest lessons you teach your kids are the ones where you show them how not to do things!)

Breaking The Cycle: The Bipolar Monster Inside My Mother

Growing up with a mentally ill parent is a challenge under the best of circumstances.

This is their story:

I want to tell you about the monster that tries to eat me.

Each day there’s a new challenge to overcome.

Living and breathing are a luxury.

I live with her.

I’ve known her.

Nobody knows her the way I do.

Nobody has met the monster inside of her, the one they call Bipolar Disorder.

Abusers either target everyone around them or one person in particular. I am the person she targets.

Maybe it’s because I am the only child or maybe it is because I resemble my father, whom she despises.

The monster has two faces; one is sweet and caring in front of everyone who is watching, and one violently screams and tries to break me to the point of no return.

People often see her as a victim, a victim of a spontaneously rebellious child.

I’m called spoiled, a rebel, bad, violent. For years, I’ve felt guilty for these things.

But I realized I’m not an angry person – I’m just pissed off at everything that has happened.

I’ve also realized I am not guilty or responsible for her demons.

I have my ways to beat the monster, to tame it. But ignoring is not one of them; neither is feeding it.

Quick wit can get you far, as will patience, but you can’t be tolerant because with tolerance comes more abuse. You have to show it that you won’t be broken down, that you won’t stay passive to everything it does.

Giving into the victimizing is as big a deal not as engaging in a screaming fit.

How can you deal with it?

The formula is simple: you don’t give it what it wants. It confuses the monster, and it puts it down.

Think ahead.

This is a survival game; every day you’re on defense.

Every day, you need to examine the opponent, and every moment you have to be ready.

It can drag you down or make you stronger, whichever you choose.

Bear it until you are able to really escape.

Ask The Band: When Can A Child Decide Not To See The Other Parent?

Welcome, one and all to our semi-weekly event where YOU get to be bossy! 

Have an issue? Click here to Ask The Band!

ask the band afraid of daughter

Hello The Band!

This is my first post ever here, I’m very private about personal things, especially having to do with my daughter, but I really need some input or suggestions as my daughter is afraid of her father.

My daughter is a nine-year old, straight A student who has received honor of the Principal’s Scholar Award. Smart cookie; so smart that she is afraid of her father – for really good reason.

We’ve got issues with the people on her father’s side of the family, that make me and my daughter afraid of her father. When I told his family that he was abusing me, it was assumed that I was lying because their Golden Boy would never!

I left him when my daughter was a baby by sneaking out one night through an open window, leaving a note behind suggesting that my ex get help – I was tired of the emotional abuse and domestic physical abuse. 

Now, he’s got a new wife and stepson and still has an every other weekend arrangement to see my daughter. Rather than do anything with her, he most often picks her up and takes her to his parent’s house – he actually sees our daughter very infrequently, but boy when he does, she’s afraid of her father.

See, he  treats her like she’s in boot camp or something. She told me she was terrified of him and he [alcoholic] drinks in the car. His wife isn’t much better, not only is she unstable like he is, but they fight and scream around my daughter. She’ll frequently use her as a pawn “Get your kid out of here!” He doesn’t spank our daughter since I established a no-spanking rule but she’s scared of her father nonetheless.

daughter afraid of father

She hates the environment they put her in: her supposed protectors spend their time with her swearing, fighting, throwing things at each other, and kicking each other out of the house on the regular.

His parents try to bribe my daughter with money, toys, and clothes if she agrees to live with them full-time, though they have no rights to custody. My daughter is really smart and she’s picked up on the fact that her father and his parents liked to say mean and ugly things about my family – especially me. I refuse to speak ill of her paternal side because I knew she’d see it when she was old enough and formed her own opinion.

She has.

My daughter is scared of her father, his temper, and the unhealthy environment where those who are supposed to protect her are abusing each other. She’s explained that she doesn’t want to see his side of the family or go to their houses any more; she’s just too scared of the volatility and is afraid of her father.

I’ve made an appointment with the magistrate to discuss our options; while I am the primary parent, legally I can’t keep her from seeing her father and their abusive family every other weekend. Most adults are afraid to speak in public but my daughter announced she would speak to a courtroom of people about how and why she never wants to be around them again – she’s so scared of them.

I guess I’m just wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation -what do you do when your child is afraid of the other parent

Do any of you have opinions on this?

What age is old enough to be able to tell them how she feels and for her to say NO I don’t want to see you?

What should I do?

Thank you for reading this, The Band.